Peach Tart

Peaches are quickly disappearing in New England.  Never fear as this tart dough would serve a multitude of fall and winter fruits including apples, pears, and plums. Next spring I plan to test out this tart with strawberries and, maybe, rhubarb

End of Summer Peach Tart
ever-so-slightly adapted from Food52
Yield: one 9-inch tart

1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, salted butter (original recipe called for unsalted)
3 to 4 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch thick)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.

In a small bowl (or in the measuring cup), whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this liquid into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan. Push the dough up the sides to meet the edge.

In the same bowl used to mix the dough (why dirty another dish?), combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, it should look like fine granules or tiny pebbles.

Arrange the peaches in an overlapping pattern over the dough.  The peaches should have a tight fit in the pan. Sprinkle all of the butter mixture over top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tomato Focaccia

Its hard to resist not eating this entire focaccia in one sitting.  When I made this in 2007, it didn't turn out at all.  Not even close.  So, I left the recipe alone for about four years.  And tried it again.  And it worked.  It worked a bit too well that I almost ate the whole thing in one day.  And then made it again and noticed how good the yeasty-olive oil-y aroma floats through the kitchen.  The cherry tomatoes, especially if sun golds are used, turn into pieces of sweet candy.  Try it, you'll like it.

Tomato Potato Focaccia

barely adapted from The Wednesday Chef
yield: 1-9 inch focaccia

1 medium Yukon Gold potato
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (original recipe says 1 teaspoon fresh yeast)
A pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for salting water for potato
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced crosswise
Coarse sea salt

Place the potato in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover the potato by an inch. Place the pot over high heat, covered, and bring to a boil. Add a handful of kosher salt to the water. Simmer until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife, around 20 minutes. Drain the potato and let it cool. Peel the potato and mash finely with a fork. Set aside.

Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl along with a pinch of sugar. Slowly add the warm water over the yeast, stir using a fork to help dissolve the yeast entirely. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes. The yeast should be bubbly.

Pour the flour into the yeasty water and stir with a fork, then add the mashed potato and the salt. The dough will be thick and shaggy. Use the fork to incorporate the potato into the flour. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and begin to knead the dough by hand. It will come together quickly. Knead against the bowl for a minute or so, until it is relatively smooth. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest, covered with a kitchen towel, in the bowl for an hour.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Using your fingertips, gently remove the risen dough from the bowl and place it in the cake pan. Gently tug and pat it out so that it fits the pan. Cover the top of the focaccia with the tomatoes. Sprinkle a large pinch of coarse salt over the tomatoes, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and let it rest for another hour. Dried oregano or thyme would be a welcomed addition here.

Preheat the oven to 425 while the focaccia is resting. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, but start checking at the 35 minute mark. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes before removing the focaccia from the pan. Try not to eat it all at once.

Beef Tenderloin + Rice Salad + Yogurt Dressing

This recipe is a hodge-podge of several recipes cobbled together.  My favorite part of this salad is the cooking method for the rice.  Thanks to Sara Moulton's appearance on food52, I discovered that it can be looked like pasta!  Just boil some water, add salt, add rice, stir, and cook for 17 minutes (that is the only precise part).  No more ratios, standing over the pot watching the rice cook, or heating up the oven (although cooking rice in the oven is my second favorite method).  The yogurt sauce was inspired by a vegetarian dish called mujaddara that combines lentils with onions and rice.  The spiced yogurt provides a cool and tangy flavor to the rice, onions, and beef.

Beef Tenderloin + Rice Salad + Yogurt Dressing
yield: 1 - 2 people

for the salad:
1/2 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
thinly sliced radishes (as many as you want)
8 ounces beef tenderloin (or a similar cut)
salt and pepper, to taste

for the dressing:
1/4-1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
lemon juice, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

For the rice, bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. Add several large pinches of Kosher salt and add the rice.  Stir and cook for 17 minutes exactly.  Drain the rice and set aside in a mixing bowl to cool. 

While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to a small saute pan set to medium heat.  Add the thinly sliced onions and slowly caramelize until soft and light brown.  This step could take about 20-30 minutes.  Add a tablespoon or two of water if the onions start to brown too quickly; the water will slow down the cooking process slightly. 

Add the onions to the bowl of cooled rice; its fine to let them stay at room temperature.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

For the steak, season with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until very hot. Cook the steak, turning once, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak to a plate or cutting board and set it aside for 5 minutes.

To serve, scoop some of the rice mixture into bowls. Thinly slice the meat and arrange some slices on top of each serving, add the sliced radishes, and spoon some of the yogurt sauce over the salad.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

This is part 2 of the "what to do with 2 gallons of strawberries" series.  In part 1, I made jam with chiles and black peppercorns.  I had this recipe filed away for about two years and finally finally! decided to make it with some slight changes: swap the raspberries for strawberries and use two types of sugar.  The dessert is delicious hot from the oven or straight-from-the-refrigerator cold. 

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

adapted from the New York Times
yield: 8 servings

filling:
2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 5-6 stalks)
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washing, hulled, and cut in half
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour, more as necessary
2/3 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars and cornstarch in a large bowl. Allow mixture to stand while preparing biscuit dough.

To prepare biscuits, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter and use two knives to cut butter into flour mixture. Pour in cream and continue stirring until dough starts to come together, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it together. Divide it equally into 8 balls, then flatten them slightly into thick rounds.

Pour filling and accumulated juices into a 2 1/2-quart gratin or a 9 by 12 inche baking dish. Arrange biscuits on top of filling and brush with cream. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden.

Strawberry Jam + Chiles

What to do with two gallons of strawberries? 

This is a redux recipe from last year.  I've been looking forward to making this strawberry jam again because there is nothing quite like fresh, ripe strawberries fresh off the vine.  This version of jam uses two kinds of sugar with the addition of a few whole black peppercorns for an extra kick.  No special canning required as this jam doesn't last very long in the refrigerator due to it's popularity.

Strawberry Jam with Chiles
adapted from Food52
yield: 2 to 2 1/2 cups

2 pounds sweet, ripe strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if large)
2 New Mexico chiles (or more) to taste
4 whole black peppercorns, optional
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup raw (demerara) sugar
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Place the strawberries in a heavy, medium-size pot. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles (no soaking is required) and discard. Roughly chop the remaining dried chile flesh, and add it to the strawberries. Add the sugars and black peppercorns (if using).

Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil -- as the fruit begins to juice, the sugar will melt. Reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Gently stir every 10 minutes. Taste it every now and then to make sure there's enough chile heat and flavor.

As the jam cooks, use a spoon to lift off any scum that rises to the surface. The jam is ready when the strawberries are shrunken and lightly candied, and the syrup has slightly thickened.  Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pot from the heat.

Serve on toast, scones, ice cream, cakes or biscuits. Refrigerate any leftover jam.  Smile...you just made jam.

Gnocchi

I don't have an Italian grandmother, a nonna if you will, which probably explains why I never learned how to make gnocchi.  Actually, it has intimidated me for quite a while.  Eyeing (or eye-ing) this recipe and it's short list of ingredients gave me the determination to try it.  Knowing I could freeze the batch provided an extra dose of "make this now for another day when you don't have ricotta".  This makes enough pasta for 2-3 meals especially if the gnocchi are frozen. 

Gnocchi
adapted from Food52
yield: 2

1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1 cup AP flour, sifted, plus extra for rolling dough
1-2 tablespoons butter
Lemon, for sauce

Mix ricotta cheese, egg, and olive oil.  Add grated Parmesan cheese to mixture and add with nutmeg to taste.

Add sifted flour a little at a time and continue to mix thoroughly until dough comes together.

Dump onto generously floured surface and work with hands to bring together into a smooth ball. Add more flour as necessary until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands.

Cut off slices of dough and roll into ropes 1-1 1/2" inches thick by spreading hands and fingers and rolling from center out to each edge of the rope.

Line one rope parallel to another and cut 2 at a time into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece off the back of a fork to make imprints that will help hold the sauce.

Transfer gnocchi pieces to a lightly floured or non-stick baking sheet so they don’t stick together and put in the freezer while making the rest of batch. If you plan to save any gnocchi for future use, allow them to freeze entirely on the baking sheet before storing in a plastic bag to prevent sticking.

When ready to eat, bring a large stockpot of generously salted water to a boil.

Add gnocchi to boiling water and gently stir once with a wooden spoon to create movement and prevent gnocchi from sticking. As gnocchi rise to the top {a sign they are done cooking} scoop them out with a mesh strainer and immediately place in serving bowl shaking off excess water.

Heat a small saute pan and add a tablespoon or two of butter.  Let the butter brown and then add the gnocchi.  Let the pasta cook in the butter to develop golden edges; this should take a few minutes.  When all the pasta is lightly browned, turn off the heat and squeeze lemon juice over the pasta and butter.

Plate the gnocchi, grate Parmesan cheese over the top, and serve.

Baked Eggs + Cream + Herbs

In continuing the egg theme, I recently made an all-time favorite: baked eggs in cream with herbs.  It is simple and quick for one eater and easily ratcheted up for a larger crowd.  Each person receives his or her own dish of a baked egg. No sharing, no dividing between plates. 

Fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano work well in this dish as they can withstand the baking; a sprinkle of chives or parsley would be a nice touch once the eggs come out of the oven.

PS: my ratio per person is 1 egg : 1 tablespoon heavy cream : 1 dish

Baked Eggs + Cream + Herbs
yield: one egg per person

1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream or half & half
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Turn on the oven to 375 degrees.

Crack the egg into a small ramekin or flat dish that is oven-proof.

Pour the heavy cream over the egg and add the thyme, salt, and pepper.

Place the ramekin or dish on a baking sheet for easy retrieval from the oven.  The baking sheet should be placed in the middle of the oven.

Watch the egg carefully as it should cook between 6-9 minutes, depending on the oven.  The egg white should be set, but not too firm.  Once removed from the oven, the egg will continue to cook a bit.

Serve with wine, bread, and a salad.

Chorizo + Yukon Gold Hash

This hash was supposed to have a sweet potato.  Alas, that sweet potato "expired", and luckily a Yukon Gold potato was the understudy.  Can't complain though.  The Yukon caramelized nicely and played sidekick to the pork chorizo; we all know that chorizo, potatoes, and eggs go well together.  And just add a flour or corn tortilla to wrap everything together.

What is not captured in the photo is the addition of the fried egg and spoonful of Greek yogurt (full fat, please.  No non-fat stuff). 

Hot eggs right out of the pan don't smile for the camera very well, so it has a separate beauty shot.


Chorizo + Yukon Gold Hash
adapted from Food52
yield: one

Olive oil
1/4 pound chorizo, casings removed
1 medium sized shallot or small yellow onion, finely diced
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Salt
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper

Put a teaspoon of oil in a heavy pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oils starts to shimmer, add the chorizo and break it up with a wooden spoon. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is evenly browned, about 5 minutes.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set it aside in a bowl. Add enough oil to the pan so that you have about 1 tablespoon of fat.

Add the onion/shallot and potato to the pan, along with a pinch of salt. Fry the onions and potatoes, turning gently every once in a while.

After the onion and potato are softened and brown, add the thyme and a few grinds of pepper, stir gently and cook for another minute or two.

Stir in the chorizo, and cook for another minute until hot.

Serve immediately, topped with a fried egg and/or a dollop of sour cream, Greek yogurt or creme fraiche.

Deconstructed Egg Salad Sandwich

The egg salad sandwich has many iterations, but after recently trying a version made with Greek yogurt, I had an idea to layer the components rather than mix them together.

Like mustard? Great! Don't like mayo? Leave it out.  Add some capers or sprinkle smoked paprika on top (totally forgot this ingredient and might have to make another sandwich just to try it...all in the name of research). 

Deconstructed Egg Salad Sandwich
yield: one open faced sandwich

1 hard boiled egg (see steps below)
garlic clove (optional)
bread cut into a 1/2" slice, toasted (optional)
grainy mustard
mayo
spinach, chopped
herbs like parsley, dill, mint, or cilantro, chopped
black pepper & flaky sea salt, to taste

How to boil an egg:

In a small sauce pan, cover egg with cold water and bring to a boil.  Neither a poach nor a simmer, but a full on boil.

Turn off the heat and cover pan with a lid or small sheet pan.  Let eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes. 

Pour out hot water and cover eggs with cold water to stop the cooking.  Peel and slice.

To assemble sandwich:

Rub a small clove of garlic over the toast (this step is optional, but it ups the flavor factor).

To taste, smear some of the grainy mustard and mayo on the bread.  Top the bread with chopped spinach and herbs.  Lay the sliced hard boiled egg on top of the greens and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and black pepper.

Enjoy and then plot when to make the sandwich again.