I'm sure you've heard the question, "If you were able to eat dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would you invite?" Responses vary across the board with presidents, musicians and actors, comedians, great thinkers, and deceased relatives usually topping the list. It's a question I've never bothered to answer myself... that is, until I roasted asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. This recipe was on Dorie Greenspan's blog, IN THE KITCHEN AND ON THE ROAD WITH DORIE GREENSPAN
. Whenever I visit Dorie's blog, I always seem to find something there that sounds too good to pass up; French Yeast-Raised Waffles -- case in point. The sheer simplicity of the Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto was reason enough to make them. And while I was wrapping the asparagus with the prosciutto, I was thinking about Dorie. I have liked her ever since I saw a photo of her in a magazine many years ago (the photo now tops the homepage of her blog), where she was reaching for something while standing on a stool in her NYC kitchen. I will never tire of that picture, filled with the tools and implements of a baker (she has 2 Kitchen-Aid mixers!). Plus, she has short hair and great eye glasses (...and who does that remind you of ;-) But when I really became aware of Dorie Greenspan was when she collaborated with Julia Child (and 36 professional bakers) in the writing of Baking with Julia. If I only had room for one cookbook in my kitchen library, this would be it.
I am also envious of Dorie (and yes, envy is not a character trait I'm proud of). She often writes about Paris, where she owns an apartment and lives part-time. That is something I have always dreamed of doing. But in the meantime, having dinner with Dorie (in Paris, maybe?) would suffice. I would have a lot of questions for her... And the other two I'd invite? They would be two people I consider friends now, the result of having my blog -- Stacey Snacks and Tom at Tall Clover Farm. I think it would be a lovely, lively, and tasty dinner, for sure! Get the recipe for Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto HERE
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I am always amazed at how a little heat and fat can transform a powerful, hot onion into melting sweetness. This custardy (and sweet) onion tart was dinner last night, along with a roasted beet and garden lettuce salad.
The Onion Tart is a Deborah Madison recipe via The New York Times. I made two small changes to the original version. I sautéed the onions in extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter, and I prebaked the tart crust for 15 minutes before filling with the onion mixture. (I never pour custard into an unbaked tart shell.)
Delicious directly from the oven, or at room temperature -- think lazy, French Rosé lunch!
for the filling:
• 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-wide pieces
• 1 1/2 pound onions, preferably white, diced
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 generous teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 3 large eggs
• 1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1 cup grated Gruyére cheese
for the crust:
• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
• 3 tablespoons ice water
1. To make the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Add the ice water slowly, while pulsing. Gather the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Press into a disc and wrap securely. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
2. Fry the bacon in a skillet until brown. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain; wipe the skillet dry. Over medium-low heat, add the olive oil to the skillet and then the onions. Sprinkle fresh thyme leaves over the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions just begin to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Lower the heat if they start to brown. You want a pale, gold color when finished. Season with salt and pepper. Remove onions from heat and let cool.
3. Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough to fit either a 9-inch round, or a rectangular tart pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and gently press into place. Trim dough at edge of pan. This is a very delicate dough and you will most likely have rips and tears. Use the trimmed dough to patch tears. Save any remaining scrap dough at room temperature while tart shell bakes. Place tart shell in freezer while preheating oven. Preheat to 400˚F. When ready, take the tart shell from the freezer and line with foil. Fill the shell with dried beans or rice and bake on the middle shelf of oven for 15 minutes. Carefully remove foil and filling and place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully patch any additional holes in the crust with reserved, room temperature dough. Set aside until needed.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche (or heavy cream), milk, and Gruyére cheese. Add the onions and reserved bacon; mix gently. Ladle the onion-custard mixture into the tart shell and place the baking sheet on center shelf of oven.
5. Bake tart for 45 - 50 minutes or until custard is set and golden. Let cool briefly before cutting. Serve with a garden salad.
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This is what I believe most Minnesotans live for -- summer! And after what seemed like a winter and spring that would never end, it is now time to celebrate the outdoors. I bike as often as I can, work in my garden every day, and try to dine on the patio as much as possible. I just hosted a dinner for friends that I have meant to do for a long, long time. And, hopefully, I have more of these dinners still ahead during this short span of warmth we now enjoy.
Pipi believes that if she positions herself below a dining table, she will reap huge rewards.
As I've mentioned before... this is my favorite soup, EVER! I know... you need to plan ahead with this soup. There are several steps involved. But you will be SO rewarded! And a warm, summer's evening is the ideal time to serve this chilled soup with amazing flavors. (I have left-overs!)
For Spice Mix:
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
• Six 6-ounce pieces salmon fillet
• 1/2 cup tomato juice
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup finely chopped vine-ripened tomato
• 1/2 pound mixed baby lettuces
Make Spice Mixture:
1. Stir together all spice mixture ingredients and reserve 1 1/2 teaspoon for vinaigrette.
2. Divide remaining spice mixture among salmon pieces, rubbing into fish and arrange fish in one layer in a shallow dish. Chill fish, covered, 2 hours.
1. In a bowl, whisk together tomato juice, vinegar, and reserved spice mixture and add oil in a steady stream, whisking until emulsified.
2. Grill fish until just cooked through.
3. While fish is cooking, in a bowl toss tomatoes and lettuces with enough vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide among 6 plates. Divide salmon pieces among plates and pour remaining vinaigrette around each serving.
And if you're wondering... I made THIS for dessert.
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Actually, it was appetizers on the patio and dinner indoors. We successfully dodged raindrops, but no one has a fighting chance against a Minnesota mosquito.
I'll show you around our friends' home -- the patio and indoors -- and give you a couple of recipes from our dinner that night.
I love French jacquard tablecloths!
Bruschetta with ricotta, tomatoes, and pine nuts
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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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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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I still consider myself "on break" from Living Tastefully, finishing up my grueling painting project and preparing for the onslaught of out-of-town family next week (which I am actually looking forward to very much!). But I just wanted to share one of the meals I recently made. I loved it! And if you're looking for a non-meat recipe, you should definitely try this. Quinoa, as you may know, is now a huge favorite of mine. Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish
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My Individual Potato and Mushroom Tortes were inspired by a recent lunch I had at The Lynn on Bryant in Minneapolis. I have visited this new, little restaurant twice in the past week (Oh-so-good!) If you live in the Twin Cities, or if you are visiting, you must go. First time there, I had a breakfast of soft boiled eggs and toast batons. And most recently for lunch, I ordered The Lynn's Potato and Mushroom Torte.
I'm a stickler when it comes to pastry crust -- there are so many bad crusts out there! But everything about this "torte", from the crust to the filling, was perfect. Perfect enough for me to come back home to my own kitchen and start recreating the lunch I had just eaten.
I baked four individual tortes in 3 3/4-inch tart pans, but a single 9- to 10-inch tart pan can be substituted. NOTE: The only change, if using a larger tart pan, would be to increase the mushroom filling by 1 1/2 times the amount -- 12-ounces of cremini mushrooms instead of the 8-ounces I used to fill the four individual tortes. Adjust amount of other ingredients in the filling accordingly.
Each torte has a rich, buttery double crust with a layer of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes -- made with a healthy combination of olive oil and buttermilk -- and a disk of goat cheese pressed into the center. The final layer of finely-minced, sherry mushrooms is topped off by another round of flaky pastry.
And there is nothing I would change in my version of this delicious vegetarian torte. The little, individual servings would be spectacular on a spring luncheon or brunch menu. I made all of the components the day before baking, making assembly the day of much less time-consuming.
• 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 1 large egg, beaten to break-up yolk
• Ice water, if needed
For the Mushroom Filling:
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large shallot, finely chopped
• 8-ounces cremini mushrooms, finely diced ( see NOTE above)
• 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
• Dry sherry
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Potato Filling:
• 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher Salt
• 4 disks of goat cheese, sliced 1/2-inch-thick (6 disks if making one large torte)
• Extra virgin olive oil (I used Nicholas Alziari Nicoise Olive Oil. Any olive oil with a mild, buttery flavor would work well here)
• Kosher salt
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
TO MAKE the CRUST:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and salt briefly. Add the cubed butter and pulse, in short bursts, until the size of small peas. Add the egg and pulse. If the dough does not start to come together, add ice water while pulsing, one teaspoon at a time. (I added 3 teaspoons of ice water to my dough before the dough started to come together.) Do not over-process.
2. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a large disc, wrap completely in plastic and place in refrigerator to chill at least 2 hours.
TO MAKE the MUSHROOM FILLING:
1. Drizzle olive oil onto a skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots and mushrooms; cook, while stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms begin to soften.
2. Stir the dried thyme into the mixture, then add a generous splash (to your liking) of the dry sherry. Continue to cook and stir over medium-low heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and remove from the heat. Transfer to a container, and when it has cooled, place container in refrigerator until assembly.
TO MAKE the POTATO FILLING:
1. Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and return to the pot.
2. Over low heat, gently mash the potatoes and add a good drizzle of olive oil, then buttermilk to achieve a somewhat creamy consistency. Add salt to taste.
3. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a container and cool to room temperature; store in refrigerator until assembly.
PREHEAT OVEN to 425˚F
1. Divide the dough into eight wedges (If making one large torte, divide dough into two pieces). Roll one wedge in-between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper, lightly dusting the dough on both sides with flour. Roll dough into a disk 1/8-inch thick. Transfer dough to a tart pan and gently press into the pan. Do not stretch the dough. Using the rolling pin, trim the dough along the top edge of the tart tin. Place tin in refrigerator to keep cold and continue to line the remaining tart tins with dough.
2. In a small bowl, gently whisk an egg. Set aside.
3. Take the chilled mashed potatoes and fill each tart shell half full (see photo). You will not need all of the mashed potatoes. Press a disk of goat cheese into the center of each mashed potato filling. Divide the reserved mushroom mixture evenly between the tart tins and gently spread to cover the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle each torte with a little kosher salt, then drizzle each with about 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
4. Roll the remaining wedges of pastry dough to top the tortes. Using a drinking straw, stamp a little hole in the center of the rolled dough (or use a sharp knife to make a couple of small slits once the top dough has been placed over the filling). This will allow steam to escape while baking. Brush the top edge of the dough in the tart pans using the reserved beaten egg. Place the rolled dough on top, centering the small stamped hole. Gently press the dough against the egg-brushed edge of pastry in the tart pan and using the rolling pin, trim the torte of the excess pastry dough.
5. Place the tortes on a jelly-roll pan and slide onto the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the dough is golden. Remove from oven and transfer tortes to a rack. Allow to cool briefly, then unmold and serve with a green salad.
* I ate a left-over, refrigerated Potato and Mushroom Torte, out-of-hand this morning for breakfast... and it was still delicious!
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