Silly you! You probably think Rum & Rosemary are the ingredients for an exotic tropical cocktail that I'm sipping while relaxing outdoors on the patio. Haha. No... silly you! (again). It's not that at all. Rum & Rosemary are the smells of my kitchen.
You see... the other day my husband purchased a bottle of rum for a French sweet cherry and rum cake, called Tartouillat, that I've been meaning to bake. And since the newly planted mint is going crazy in my backyard garden, my husband decided to get a big bottle of rum for the mojitos that lie ahead. This morning I started on the cake. I had pitted the cherries, beaten the eggs into the sugar, and was about to measure the rum, which was open and setting atop the large butcher block in my workspace. Now you must understand that I will, on occasion, move extremely fast while working in my kitchen. Many times knives go flying. Today, however, it was the rum that went flying -- off the butcher block and onto the floor. The big, newly purchased bottle fell onto the floor and broke into many pieces -- large shards to infinitesimal specks. I stared at the floor for a long, long time. Where do I start? Do I try to soak up the rum first with towels and sponges, or do I start by picking up the broken glass? I think I started by cursing.
So what's up with the rosemary? After the floor was wiped dry and vacuumed twice to remove as much of the glass as possible, I washed it down, twice, with rosemary scented Mrs. MEYER'S All-Purpose Cleaner. The combination of rum and rosemary in my house was nothing short of overwhelming. (Fortunately, ten hours later, the smell has dissipated). I continued on and baked the Tartouillat,
which wasn't problem- free for me either. I ended up baking one cake twice. The original temperature of 400˚F was too hot for my cake that I baked in an 8-inch springform pan instead of the recommended 9-inch (it took forever to get the inside of the cake done). After baking my cake for 35 minutes at 400˚, and letting it cool, I rebaked the cake at 350˚ for an additional 40-45 minutes (if not more) after I discovered the soupy interior which wasn't noticeable what-so-ever on the inserted skewer. This is a delicious cake and I will make it again, using my 8-inch springform and baking the entire time at 350˚ -- for at least an hour, I'm sure; maybe more. Intuition tells me that if you follow the recipe's instructions and use a 9-inch pan, you'll be o.k., or at least close to o.k.
This is the Serious Eats link (click HERE) where I got the recipe. I will let you decide how to approach this cake. After baking it twice, allowing it to cool, and sprinkling with confectioners' sugar, I had 2 slices with a glass of cold milk. Like I said, it really is delicious.
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Enjoying dinner outdoors!
recipe by Salvatore Denaro | Food & Wine Magazine
• 1 cup water
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
• 1 piece of stale, rustic whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6-ounces)
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 cup thinly sliced celery
• 1 cup coarsely chopped green olives
• 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup chopped basil
• 1/2 cup chopped mint
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large bowl, combine the water and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Gently fold the bread into the water, making sure all of the pieces become moistened. Drain in a colander and gently squeeze out any remaining liquid.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar.
3. In a large serving bowl, combine the tomatoes, celery, green olives, onion, basil, mint, and oregano. Add the vinaigrette and the bread cubes. Fold together gently. Season with salt and pepper.
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I amazed myself yesterday by making Spaghetti with Asparagus and Fried Egg for dinner. What amazed me was having the stamina to prepare dinner.
It was an absolutely glorious day (for a change) and all of my plans were set aside and replaced with a 25-mile bike ride around the lakes of Minneapolis -- stopping for a nice little lunch along the way. I'm sure most bikers wouldn't blink at riding 25-miles, but the distance I rode yesterday was a bit more than I usually attempt. On most rides I limit myself to around 15-miles -- three times a week. I imagined crashing on the sofa from exhaustion when I returned home, but I actually felt good! And even though I probably consumed a whole loaf of bread during my late afternoon lunch, I was hungry for dinner.
I made this pasta dish about a week ago and liked it enough to make it a second time for dinner last night. But then again, I like anything with an egg on top!
An alfresco dinner last night as the sun was beginning to set
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Spaghetti with Asparagus and Fried Egg
adapted recipe from the Chicago Tribune
• 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
• Kosher or sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional if needed
• 2 eggs
• 8 ounces spaghetti
• Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved or grated
* Freshly toasted bread crumbs
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook until the pieces are almost tender, about 1 minute.
2. Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and wrap in a large dish towel; set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to package directions.
3. In a large skillet (cast iron if you have one) heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add the reserved asparagus. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer the asparagus to a large bowl and add the drained pasta. Drizzle with more olive oil and toss. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
5. Heat a small skillet over low heat; drizzle with some olive oil and add the eggs. Cook until set, but the yolks are still runny. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Plate the asparagus and pasta, sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and top with the fried egg.
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Disappointing is how I would describe the state of my vegetable garden; the result of endless rain and what seems like constant cool temperatures. We briefly had the heat on in our house yesterday -- yesterday was June 5th! I have this unwritten rule; no heat on until October 1st and all heat off after April 30th. My family, and most likely some friends, hate me for this. That rule has now been broken numerous times. But back to my garden. Needless to say, it's suffering.
What little I do have growing is rhubarb, some French Breakfast radishes, and an endless supply of chives. So chives it is! I was able to use a heaping quarter cup of chives in this Double Corn Muffin recipe.
adapted recipe from Cooking For The Weekend | Michael McLaughlin
MAKES 10 MUFFINS
PREHEAT OVEN to 400˚F
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup yellow cornmeal
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 large egg, room temperature
• 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
• 1 cup well-drained, thawed, frozen corn kernels
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, PLUS addition butter for greasing the muffin tin
• Generous 1/4 cup minced, fresh chives
1. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the sour cream; stir in the corn, butter, and chives. Add the moist ingredients to the dry, mixing just until combined. Do not over-mix.
2. Grease 10 cups of a muffin tin with butter. Using a spoon, divide the muffin batter evenly between the cups. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for several minutes before serving.
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Other than my garden looking like it's early May instead of early June, I composed an alfresco meal with produce from my vegetable garden (as best I could). And with another bumper crop of rhubarb this spring, you probably have a very good idea of what took center stage in our meal.
The Roasted Rhubarb with Candied Ginger Shortcake is reinvented from previously-posted recipes.
Our main dish was dry-rubbed, grilled pork tenderloins served with a rhubarb chutney loaded with fresh ginger and golden raisins.
For dessert I oven-roasted rhubarb drenched in orange zest, fresh orange juice, and a generous splash of Grand Marnier. I took the thick, left-over juices from both the chutney and roasted rhubarb and strained them, giving me a delicious, rosy syrup that we mixed with champagne. We served that with European salted butter on baguette slices that were then topped with French Breakfast radishes from my garden. All left-over syrup is now being mixed with sparkling water for a refreshing drink after working outdoors or biking. The spicy ginger in the syrup gives it a nice little kick!
Pipi enjoying spilled grilled pork juices >
Bon Appetit, Pipi!
Roasted Rhubarb with Candied Ginger Shortcakes
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
• 1 large egg
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 5 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1/4 cup candied ginger, small dice
• Additional whipping cream for brushing scones
• Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
• Sweetened whipped heavy cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a small heavy baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is the size of small peas.
2. In a large bowl gently whisk together by hand the egg, milk and 5 tablespoons heavy cream. Add the flour-butter mixture, along with the diced candied ginger, and stir together with a fork just until combined. Gather dough together and on a lightly-floured work surface, pat the dough into a round about 3/4 of an inch thick. Try to work the dough as little as possible. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut 4 rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined heavy baking sheet. Gather together the remaining dough and cut 2 more rounds.
3. Brush the tops of the 6 scones with the 1 tablespoon heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 14 minutes or until golden. I found, the 2 times I baked these scones, that the bottoms will become quite dark. A heavy baking sheet is recommended. Cool the scones briefly on a wire rack before splitting and filling with the roasted rhubarb.
• 3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
• 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (preferably organic
• Splash of Grand Marnier
1. Prepare rhubarb: In a baking dish combine rhubarb, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and splash of Grand Marnier. Cover and bake in a preheated 350˚F oven about 20 minutes, or until rhubarb is just tender. Keep rhubarb chunks intact; do not break up by stirring. Remove from oven.
• Split the scones. Layer the roasted rhubarb along with the sweetened whipped cream.
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I first read about using chocolate crumbs in desserts a year ago when Dorie Greenspan blogged, "A Sweet Paris Trend: Cocoa Crumbs"
. The word Paris always gets my attention, and the crumbs sounded like a great addition to... anything!
I never, however, got around to making Dorie's recipe for Cocoa Crumbs. Something else probably caught my eye and I moved on in another direction. But after finding a recipe for dark, crunchy, chocolate crumbs in Marie Claire Seasonal Kitchen (this time sprinkled over yogurt and fresh berries), I decided it was time. And topping Greek honey yogurt with fresh berries is how I have been eating chocolate crumbs this week. Sprinkle over ice cream, layer with puddings, garnish a cream pie -- it's endless, and really tasty... with a great little crunch! I have copied the ingredients, below, as they appear in Marie Claire. But I did tweak it slightly when I made the crumbs. I used a sourdough boule for my bread crumbs. Four large slices seemed like a lot of bread, so I increased the cocoa, brown sugar, and butter slightly. I added little by little and kept tasting the unbaked crumbs until they seemed just right; chocolatey and slightly sweet. Really... I don't think it's possible to go wrong here. More cocoa and brown sugar only makes it that much better!
Marie Claire Seasonal Kitchen | Michele Cranston
• 4 slices of stale sourdough bread
• 1/2 cup ground almonds
• 1 tablespoon soft, brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• Assorted fresh berries, for serving
• Greek plain, vanilla, or honey yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Cut crusts from sourdough bread and tear bread into small pieces. Place in a food processor with the ground almonds, brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Process the mixture until the bread has formed fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse briefly.
2. Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet with sides and bake for 10 minutes. If the bread crumbs feel crisp, remove pan from the oven; if not, continue to bake until crisp. Remove from the oven and let crumbs cool completely.
3. Sprinkle the chocolate bread crumbs over the yogurt and berries. Store remaining crumbs in an air-tight container.
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The 12-foot long harvest table is finished! But any photos of al fresco dining on the patio will have to wait. With continuing rain and temperatures in the 60's, no one cares to sit at this table right now.
The table base is constructed of blackened steel piping. Once we had all of the components in our possession, the table went together rather quickly -- within a day. What took more time was finding the piping we needed. Galvanized pipes seem to be the way to go -- they're widely available. But it wasn't the look we wanted. The table-top is made from 7 cedar planks,12-feet long and will be left to weather.
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Did you think I dropped off the face of the earth? I feel like I've been gone forever... but I accomplished a lot during my hiatus. Painting project done. Out-of-town guests have come and gone. Raised beds built and vegetable garden planted (sort of). We're one day out from the completion of our 12-foot harvest table for the patio -- it will be my next post! But most importantly, my daughter has safely arrived in Paris for the summer. With all of these checked off my list, I am now more than ready to spend many hours in my garden and kitchen, creating al fresco meals during the upcoming months.
Since there is nothing I would rather make in my kitchen than tarts, today I decided on Corn Tarts with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Goat Cheese. These tarts were our dinner with a salad of greens, toasted walnuts, diced cherries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. And I just may have to make these again for a breakfast or lunch on the patio. Loved them!
Corn Tarts with Tomatoes, Bacon, and Goat Cheese
Makes six 3 3/4-inch tarts
• 1 cup flour
• 1/3 cup cornmeal
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 3 tablespoons ice water
• 3 strips apple-smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
• 4 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
• 4 ounces goat cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 2 large, organic eggs
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup whole milk
• 3 green onions, the white and some green finely sliced
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 4 to 5 Campari tomatoes cut into small wedges, or use large cherry tomatoes
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
1. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse very briefly to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water while pulsing. Stop when the dough just starts to come together.
2. Transfer the tart dough mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a disk and wrap completely in the plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Remove tart dough from the refrigerator. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece between a lightly-floured sheet of waxed paper and plastic wrap to a 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer rolled dough to tart pan and trim edges. Place in freezer. Repeat with remaining dough. You can use one large tart pan (approximately 10 1/2-inches) instead of 6 individual pans.
4. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line tart shells with foil and fill with dried beans or rice. Place tart pans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of oven for 18 minutes. Remove foil and beans/or rice and return tart shells to oven. Continue to bake until shells are a light golden. Remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F.
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
1. Brown the bacon in a large skillet. Transfer to paper towels to drain when done. Pour off the bacon fat, leaving a film of fat in the skillet. Add the corn kernels and cook over medium-low heat until just beginning to brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
2. Break the goat cheese into small pieces and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, milk, and green onions. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Divide the goat cheese evenly between the six tart shells, followed by the corn kernels. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the tarts, filling just below the rims. Place the tomato wedges in a spoke pattern in the center of each tart.
5. Place the filled tart shells on rimmed baking sheet in the center of the 375˚F oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until custard has set and tomatoes are starting to shrivel.
6. Remove from oven and garnish each tart with a sprig of fresh thyme. Eat either warm from the oven, or at room temperature.
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So this is what I've been doing the past three days. We have just built two raised beds (there's another bed that's a mirror image of this one to the right). We felt we needed to do something to deter the rabbits, slugs, and French Bulldogs that devour our vegetables. My husband ordered 5 cubic yards of topsoil to fill the newly-built raised beds. Five cubic yards didn't sound like a lot to me, but when I found I could barely exit our garage after the delivery truck dumped it in our alley, I felt entirely different about how much 5 cubic yards actually is. Rain and more cold is on the way, so it most likely will be next week before anything is planted into the garden.
Next on our list? We're going to build a harvest table for the patio. I need a table to seat at least 10 people. Hopefully, after that is finished, we can begin hosting dinners for friends -- with vegetables from the garden!
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