My daughter stopped by yesterday; possibly to see me, but more likely to see the new puppy, Bisous. She opened the refrigerator door and said, "You need to go to the grocery store. There's nothing to eat". I haven't been baking or cooking much this week. My husband is visiting his father (and I've been busy with Bisous), but that gives me the opportunity to eat the kind of simple meals I love. My daughter may have thought there was nothing to eat in the house, but I have eggs, vegetables, and fruit. Perfect...
I eat a LOT of eggs, each and every day. During that horrible stretch of time when we were told to eat eggs sparingly because of cholesterol, I would continue to consume several a day. It didn't stop me. Lately, my morning breakfasts are two fried eggs with toast and smashed avocados. Dinners recently start with salads topped by poached eggs. Sometimes, the salad is followed by a savory tart of vegetables baked in an egg custard. Like I've always said... If something is topped with an egg, that something is better because of it.
I wish the frittata I made this morning for one person, would have been larger (for 4 possibly?). I devoured it quickly and right now I would really like some more. If I had bacon on hand, I probably would have tossed some of that to the mix, also.
Serves 1 person and can be easily increased
• 1 yam, cut into small cubes
• extra-virgin olive oil
• sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 pear, cut into slices
• 1 handful arugula
• fresh ricotta (recipe HERE, or purchased)
• 3 large eggs, lightly whisked
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Toss the cubed yam in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Spread onto a sheet pan and roast in the oven until softened and starting to caramelize. Remove from oven and reserve.
2. Drizzle some olive oil onto a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pear slices and cook, until they begin to soften and caramelize slightly.
3. Using an 8-inch skillet (for 1 serving), place over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add about 3/4 cup of the cubed yams. Stir briefly, then add the arugula. Toss over the heat until the arugula just starts to wilt. Turn the burner to low and pour the beaten eggs evenly over the top. Spoon generous dollops of the fresh ricotta over the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Place the pear slices on top and sprinkle with some more of the cubed yams.
4. Place the skillet on the middle rack of the 375˚ oven and bake until the eggs are just set, approximately 10 minutes. NOTE: If increasing the size of the frittata, additional baking time will be necessary. Remove from oven and serve hot or at room temperature.
TAKE a LOOK:
Yes... you read correctly... a 65th birthday. Not mine! It's my husband's birthday today. One of his favorite things... ever... is pumpkin, so that's what he's getting. A pumpkin layer cake with an orange-cream cheese frosting. Oh... and I can't forget the pumpkin seeds!
+ Pumpkin Layer Cake with Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting +
•adapted recipe | Bon Appetit, November 2009
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus additional for greasing pans
• 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting pans
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
• 3 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 12-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
• 1 1/2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
• pumpkin seeds, toasted
1. Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease three 8-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch sides with butter. Line bottoms with parchment; grease parchment. Dust the interior of the pans lightly with flour, tapping out excess.
2. Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in another large bowl until smooth. Beat in brown sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions., beating to blend between additions. Divide batter between pans.
3. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks. Remove parchment. Turn cakes over onto racks, top sides up, and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap cakes in plastic and store at room temperature.
4. TO MAKE FROSTING: Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter in large bowl until smooth. Add cream cheese and orange peel; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth.
5. Trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on large platter. Spoon some frosting atop cake in dollops; spreading to edges. Repeat 2 more times with remaining cakes. Spread remaining frosting on sides of cake. (Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Cover cake and chill.) At room temperature, decorate cake with pumpkin seeds. Serve.
TAKE a LOOK:
This was the summer of roasted eggplant in my kitchen. I grow eggplant every year, but have never been able to say it reached bumper crop proportions. This time was different. I (almost) had more eggplant than I knew what to do with. And what did I do with it? I made it exactly the same way each time I picked it from my garden. That may sound boring to many of you, but we just couldn't get enough of the roasted eggplant. And when I had visitors from out of town, or friends and family over for dinner, I knew that it wasn't just me loving my pasta tossed with roasted eggplant and onions plus fresh, homemade ricotta stirred into the mix. The recipe was requested by everyone who has eaten it; and making it couldn't be easier.
I was raised on eggplant. My mother grew classic eggplant in her garden and like me, prepared it only one way. She sliced the eggplant thinly, dipped the slices in beaten eggs and cracker crumbs, and followed by frying in vegetable oil. I could be wrong... but I don't remember anything else on the dinner table those nights. My mother just kept filling our plates with the freshly-made, hot fried eggplant, and we devoured it.
For many years I just roasted my cubed eggplant with onions and fresh thyme, then tossed with hot pasta, a dousing of extra-virgin olive oil and topped it all with grated Parmigiano- Reggiano. That was it, and it was good. But this has also been the summer of homemade fresh ricotta. That addition is what changed everything... along with a hefty drizzle of a good quality balsamic, as suggested by friend and blogger Stacey Snacks.
Last night I changed it up a bit. Instead of tossing the eggplant and onions with pasta, I topped a pizza on the grill with the vegetables and ricotta. I also changed the way I usually make my pizza dough (recipe HERE), which resulted in the best grilled pizza I have ever made. I'm hoping for some decent weather down the road so I can continue to experiment with the grilling of the dough. First of all, I forgot to add a bit of honey to the proofing yeast, although I don't know if that made a difference. Sugar is often added to yeast and water to help the process along. I also --always-- refrigerate the balls of dough for a time until I begin the pizzas, usually later in the day. This time, I took the room temperature, beautifully soft yeast dough, instead of refrigerating it, and immediately began stretching into a round, then tossed it onto the hot, gas grill. It was over the top perfect. My husband kept describing it as pastry. There was no bready doughiness. It was delicate, crisp, and shattered like the leaves of puff pastry in a croissant... spectacular. However you use the roasted eggplant, though, I can guarantee you'll love it also.
+ The ingredients below are approximate. Feel free to mix it up the way you like it. I use enough fresh-cubed eggplant to totally cover a large baking sheet with 1-inch sides. And don't be stingy with the extra-virgin olive oil!
• 1/2 - 3/4 pound fresh ricotta, purchased or homemade (recipe HERE)
• 3-4 smaller classic eggplant or 6 Japanese eggplant (see above), peeled if using Classic Eggplant, and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 very large yellow onion cut into 1-inch wedges, and wedges kept intact
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher or sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
• Fresh thyme sprigs
• Good quality balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with enough olive oil to lightly coat and a sprinkling of kosher or sea salt. Spread the eggplant in a single layer onto a baking sheet with 1-inch sides and transfer to oven. Roast eggplant, tossing occasionally, until it begins to soften. Place the onion wedges in the bowl and drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat; sprinkle with salt. Add the onions, along with any of the oil remaining in the bowl, to the eggplant. If the mixture seems dry, drizzle with additional oil. Continue to roast the eggplant and onions, gently tossing often for even caramelization. Once the onions are added, watch closely. I like the onions soft with a bit of color. Avoid burning the onions or they will become bitter. Keeping the wedges intact as much as possible during roasting helps with that. Right at the end you can start breaking up the onion into pieces. I never watch the clock when making this. Individual ovens make differently. I prefer a gentle roast at 375˚, tossing often, and watching closely to avoid any burn.
2. When roasted to your liking, remove from oven and transfer to a large mixing. Add a good drizzle of the balsamic and leaves from the fresh thyme sprigs; adjust salt and add freshly-ground pepper to taste. Gently stir in as much fresh ricotta as you like. My feeling is, there can never be too much. Toss mixture with hot pasta (adding a little more olive oil if needed), use on pizza, or top crostini. It's endless...
TAKE a LOOK:
This is a delicious, puréed corn soup that does taste just like summer. The recipe is from Gavin Kayson, formerly director of culinary operations for Daniel Boulud in NYC, and a Minnesota native. Kayson returned here to open Spoon and Stable in the north loop of downtown Minneapolis. If you're visiting the Twin Cities and want a memorable evening, make reservations (ahead) at Spoon and Stable. I ate there this past spring and would love to go back for the fall/winter menu.
+ recipe by Gavin Kaysen | WSJ Off-Duty
• 1/4 pound butter
• 1 cup thinly sliced leeks, whites only
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 4-6 ears), cobs reserved
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 lime
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Chopped chives, for garnish
1. Melt butter in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Sauté leeks, onions and garlic until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add 4 cups corn kernels, reserved cobs and just enough stock to cover corn. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until stock absorbs flavors of other ingredients, about 35 minutes. Stir in cream and simmer until soup thickens, 10-15 minutes more. Remove cobs and discard.
2. Use a blender or food processor to purée soup until smooth, (For an even smoother soup, pass it through a fine-mesh sieve.). Season soup with salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste. Return soup to pan and keep warm over low heat.
3. Prepare garnishes: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté remaining corn kernels until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
4. To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, Drizzle each serving with some of remaining olive oil and garnish with sautéed corn kernels and chives.
TAKE a LOOK:
Had it not been a hot, muggy day, I never would have made this salad. I would have roasted the little purple potatoes in the oven and seared the haricot verts green beans in olive oil on top of the stove; both favorite techniques of mine. Nice that it happened this way!
Dinner on the patio... rhubarb mojitos, grilled chicken, potato & green bean salad, fresh peach and blueberry crisp (baked in the cooler, early morning hours) with homemade ice milk. Isn't summer great? Forgot to pull the watermelon balls from the refrigerator -- another day, another dinner...
+ recipe adapted, from The New Basics Cookbook
• 1 3/4 pound small purple or yellow potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
• 3/4 pound Haricots Verts or green beans, trimmed and halved or quartered depending on size
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Place the potatoes in a medium-size pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes, halve or quarter if large.
2. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil; add the green beans. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender; approximately 3 minutes for Haricots Verts and possibly longer for larger beans. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again.
3. For the dressing... in a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, zest, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
4. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and green beans. Gently fold in half of the dressing, then any of the remaining dressing until coated to your liking. You may not use all of it. Serve salad at room temperature or refrigerate until needed.
TAKE a LOOK:
I continue to make and use fresh ricotta weekly (recipe HERE); just can't get enough of it! These individual savory galettes combine my love of pastry with lemon-infused ricotta, and zucchini from my garden... perfect! The filled tarts were our dinner last night, and the remaining leftovers our breakfast this morning.
I spent the better part of my day making the galettes, but it needn't be that labor-intensive.. The ricotta can be made ahead -- up to five days -- or purchased, but I highly recommend using homemade. And one or two days before you plan to bake the galettes, mix up the pastry dough and refrigerate. The shredding and draining of the zucchini can also be done ahead.
... A lovely little pastry for a summer meal.
• recipe by Amelia Saltsman, adapted | Bon Appétit, October 2008
• 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
• 1 1/3 pounds (5 2/3 cups) coarsely grated zucchini
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 cup finely chopped onion
• 1 small garlic clove, minced
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 1/1/4 cups ricotta cheese, preferably fresh and preferably homemade
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons finely grated organic lemon peel
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Fleur de sel
1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add the butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, a little at a time, pulsing until moist clumps form. If mixture is too dry, add more water by teaspoonfuls as needed. Divide the dough between 2 sheets of plastic and form each into a disk. Wrap in the plastic and refrigerate about 2 hours. The pastry dough can be made two days ahead. Keep refrigerated until 10 minutes before you're ready to roll the dough.
2. Place the grated zucchini in a mesh colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and gently toss the mixture to distribute the salt. Allow zucchini to drain for 30 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to a large, cotton dishtowel. Wrap the towel around the zucchini and squeeze over the sink, removing as much moisture as possible.
3. In a 9-inch sauté pan, melt the butter along with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, approximately 7 minutes. Add the garlic, stirring constantly for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the zucchini and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally for approximately 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan, 1 egg, lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the cooled zucchini mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Preheat the oven to 425˚F and position one of the racks in the center of the oven. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Divide each disk of pastry dough into 3 equal pieces (for a total of six). In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg; set aside. Place a square of waxed paper on your work surface. Dust the paper with flour and place one piece of pastry dough on top. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Roll the dough into a round 6-inches in diameter. Place a 6-inch plate on top of the dough and trim with a sharp knife for a perfect round. Very gently, run the knife underneath the pastry. This will loosen the pastry from the waxed paper, making it easier to transfer once the galette is filled. Take a sixth of the filling and mound in onto the center of the rolled pastry, leaving about a 3/4-inch edge. Carefully lift the edge up and start pleating the pastry around the filling. This is when you will need to dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg and moisten the dough in between the pleats. This will help to secure the pastry during baking and avoid any sliding of the pleated dough Transfer the galette to the sheet pan and repeat with the remaining pastry and zucchini filling. When the six galettes have been placed on the sheet pan, brush the exposed pastry with some more of the beaten egg and sprinkle the tops with Parmesan cheese.
6. Place baking sheet in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375˚F and bake for approximately 20 minutes more, until golden. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The galettes can also be baked 4 hours ahead and served at room temperature if desired.
+ The Zucchini Galettes were served with buttery heirloom purple beans from my garden, baked speck spirals, and glasses of chilled French Rosé.
TAKE a LOOK:
I cannot let a summer pass without making a big Salade Nicoise at least once. The timing of a Salade Nicoise depends on just one thing... whether or not my green beans are ready. WELL... they're ready!
I plant two beans each spring. One is a bush, French Haricot Verts -- the thinnest of green beans -- and the bean that I use in my Salade Nicoise. I always plant two beds from seed with their rectangular plots surrounded by 20-inch-tall bamboo fencing to keep hungry rabbits out.
This year I planted one bed of the Haricot Verts in mid-April, followed by a second planting three weeks later. But I've come to realize I should have waited even longer. Both beds are going gangbusters right now. And in addition to the Haricot Verts, the heirloom purple pole beans I planted this spring are coming on with a vengeance as well. Needless to say... we will be eating a lot of beans this week at my house!
Too bad these beautiful purple beans turn green once thrown into a pan of boiling water.
This is a fantastic recipe for Salad Nicoise. Get some really good bread and salted butter, pour yourself a glass of Provencal Rosé and enjoy a long, leisurely al fresco meal this summer!
• Salade Nicoise
adapted from a recipe in The New Basics Cookbook
by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
Recipe adjusted to feed 6 to 8 people
• 16 new potatoes
• 1 pound haricot verts, trimmed, or if using regular green beans trimmed and halved lengthwise
• 6 cans (4 1/2 ounces) tuna (packed in olive oil), drained
• 8 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
• 4 tablespoons tiny capers, drained
• 7 tablespoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 7 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon mild extra-virgin olive oil
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 generous tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
• 1 cloves minced garlic
• Coarse (kosher) salt, to taste
• 4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
• 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
• 8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
• 1/2 cup Nicoise olives
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
2. Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork, and place them in a baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside to cool.
3. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add the beans. Simmer until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Wrap in a dish towel and set aside.
4. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl, and break it into large chunks. Add the red onion, capers, 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, and pepper. Toss gently until well-combined and set aside.
5. Cut the cooked potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and place them in a mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, pepper, and coarse salt. Toss to combine, and set aside.
6. Place the halved grape tomatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle with pepper, coarse salt, and the parsley.
7. Just before you are ready to serve, toss the beans with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with coarse salt.
8. Arrange tomatoes, tuna, potatoes, and green beans on a large platter. Place hard boiled eggs throughout and toss Nicoise olives over the top.
TAKE a LOOK:
While we were "Up North" there were heavy rains at home in the Twin Cities the night before we returned. My beautiful English peas were crushed from the force. We gathered up all the peapods we could find on the vines and those knocked onto the ground. My husband gently lifted the plants and tried to provide additional support, but I think for this year, the peas are history. Last summer I was able to pick peas well through July and had expected to do the same this season; what a disappointment. So last night we had our farewell to peas dinner on our deck overlooking the garden.
Peas with Baked Fresh Ricotta and Bread Crumbs. I had never purchased fresh ricotta before... lovely. Baked ricotta, toasted bread crumbs, and lemony peas. I served this along with grilled salmon.
• recipe by Deborah Madison
• Olive oil
• 1 cup high-quality ricotta cheese, such as hand-dipped full-fat ricotta
• 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
• 4 teaspoons butter
• 2 large shallots or 1/2 small onion, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
• 5 small sage leaves, minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
• 1 1/2 pounds pod peas, shucked (about 1 cup)
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
• Chunk of Parmesan cheese, for grating
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a small baking dish; a round Spanish earthenware dish about 6 inches across is perfect for this amount.
2. If your ricotta is wet and milky, drain it first by putting it in a colander and pressing out the excess liquid. Pack the ricotta into the dish, drizzle a little olive oil over the surface, and bake 20 minutes or until the cheese has begun to set and brown on top. Cover the surface with the bread crumbs and continue to bake until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, another 10 minutes. (The amount of time it takes for ricotta cheese to bake until set can vary tremendously, so it may well take longer than the times given here, especially if it wasn't drained.)
3. When the cheese is finished baking, heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the shallots and sage and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the peas, 1/2 cup water, and the lemon zest. Simmer until the peas are bright green and tender; the time will vary, but it should be 3 to 5 minutes. Whatever you do, don't let them turn gray. Season with salt and a little freshly ground pepper, not too much.
4. Divide the ricotta between 2 plates. Spoon the peas over the cheese. Grate some Parmesan over all and enjoy while warm.
I bought a flat of fresh picked strawberries while "Up North" and quickly got to work on a strawberry tart with pastry cream when I returned. I took some liberties with the crust by substituting large, coarse, strawberry sugar from Paris for the standard granular sugar in the recipe. Delightful. I believe you need to make at least one tart with pastry cream and local berries each summer. You just have to... so delicious.
• adapted recipes from Sunset magazine | July 2015
• 1 2/3 cups flour
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for pan
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until butter is smaller than pea-size. Whisk egg yolk, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl and add to the flour mixture. Blend just until dough comes together and is smooth.
2. Form dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to 4 days.
3. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart pan. Roll dough out between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper or parchment paper until 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough onto rolling pin, then unroll over tart pan. Gently press dough flush against bottom, into bottom corners, and up inside of pan. Using the rolling pin, trim the dough along the top edge of the tart pan. Place pan in refrigerator to chill and preheat the oven to 375˚F.
4. Once the oven is preheated, remove tart pan from refrigerator and line dough with foil. Fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights.
5. Bake tart shell until edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return tart shell to oven and continue to bake until center looks dry and is starting to turn deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from oven; let cool completely before removing pan rim and filling shell.
VANILLA PASTRY CREAM:
• 1 cup each whole milk and heavy cream
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out and reserved
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. Add vanilla bean pod and seeds; let set off the heat, covered, 30 minutes.
2. Mix yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Blend in cornstarch and salt. Rewarm milk mixture over medium high heat until almost simmering. Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Pour mixture back into pan and cook, whisking constantly, until as thickened and mixture coats the sides of a wooden spoon, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour custard through a strainer into a clean bowl, discarding vanilla bean.
3. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Chill for at least 3 hours and up to 4 days.
4. Whisk cold custard to smooth out any lumps, then spread into tart shell.
1. Top the pastry cream with hulled strawberries or any other type of berry or combination of berries. Brush the berries with melted currant jelly. Chill tart until ready to serve.
TAKE a LOOK:
Aside from the heirloom tomatoes in my vegetable garden, peas have become my favorite crop. I planted English shelling peas for the first time last year and this spring doubled the amount with half climbing peas, half bush. When I was a little girl, I would sit in the middle of my aunt's pea patch (and it was huge), shelling pea after pea, eating all the contents and saving none.
Last year I made pea risotto over and over; sometimes with prosciutto, sometimes using bacon. This time around, I'm stuck on Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint. I found Nancy Silverton's recipe for this in the cookbook, Harvest to Heat by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. I have checked this book from the library so often, my husband is saying... Just buy it!
I'm loving speck, an air-dried ham from northern Italy, and may substitute it for prosciutto from now on. My understanding is, both prosciutto and speck are salt cured, but speck is also smoked. And... there is less fat on the slices!
The combination of sweet peas, burrata, and speck are fantastic. I'm hoping the harvesting of peas from my garden continues for a long while. I need to make this (often) a few more times.
• 1 1/2 cups fresh peas
• 1/2 cup mint leaves, julienned
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound speck (about 16 slices)
• 1 pound fresh burrata, cut into 8 slices
1. Fill a small saucepan with cold water and place over medium-high heat. Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain peas in a mesh strainer and place under cold running water to cool. Shake strainer to remove as much water from peas as possible.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the peas, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, 4 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix ingredients until thoroughly combined.
3. Arrange 4 slices of speck in a spoke pattern onto 4 plates. Place 2 slices of burrata in the center of each plate of speck.
4. Divide and scoop the pea mixture over the burrata. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano evenly over the top of each plate.
TAKE a LOOK:
Thought you might like a quick tour of my vegetable garden...
So far, we've been eating French Breakfast Radishes, lettuces, and rhubarb. My peas are close to being ready. I'm looking forward to a favorite Pea and Prosciutto Risotto, along with a slew of other pea recipes I've been planning to try.
There are two beds of Haricot Vert (slender French green beans), along with a climbing purple heirloom variety.
Above is our rose arbor. There are future plans to rebuild it since my husband says the roses are now holding up the structure.
Other vegetables in the garden... red cabbage
classic and Japanese eggplant
chioga and red beets
eight heirloom tomatoes
New this year... Brussels Sprouts!
Also throughout the garden... sweet basil
flat and curly parsley
Bring on summer al fresco dining!