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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Slim chance I'll be working in my vegetable garden today...
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My daughter turned 20 this week. We celebrated by going out to dinner, then returned home for "cake". Growing up, my birthday cakes were always angel food with seven minute frosting. That was what I wanted... Always! But I have learned every year to ask my daughters what birthday cake, or birthday celebration dessert they fancy... Tradition has been thrown out-the-window by my girls.
Very rarely, any longer, is it a cake. When they were young I consistently made a chocolate-cherry cake with whipped cream frosting for each and every birthday. No more. Many times a tart is requested -- lemon meringue mostly; key lime sometimes.
When I asked my daughter last week what dessert she would like for her birthday she said, "I don't need anything". And I responded with something like...
Not having a birthday cake/dessert in this house -- unheard of!
It was all up to me... the decision rested on my shoulders! What would I bake for the celebratory dessert? I'd never served my family a pavlova, but who doesn't like a baked meringue? And an assortment of fresh berries and lemon curd whipped cream seemed liked the perfect filling for the meringue layers. I assembled it right before leaving for dinner, then placed it in the refrigerator until we returned. This just might be our new tradition. Most of us (me included) were sneaking a second piece.
* I'll be taking a short break to tackle my painting project, host a few guests, and help my daughter prepare for her trip abroad next month. See you again soon!
Pavlova with Berries and Lemon Curd Cream
Meringue Layers (recipe Yvonne Ruperti):
• 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 6 large eggs whites
• 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
• Pinch of salt
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup (2 ounces) ground almonds
Lemon Curd Whipped Cream:
• 2 eggs yolks
• 1 whole, large egg
• 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
• 5 tablespoons cold butter
• 1 cup cold, heavy cream
• Powdered sugar, to taste
• fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
• • •
To make the meringues:
Follow Yvonne Ruperti's recipe for the meringue layers on Serious Eats.
To make the lemon curd cream: 1. Whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, 6 tablespoons sugar, fresh lemon juice, and finely grated lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl until well combined. Set bowl over a medium pot of simmering water over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until thick, 8-10 minutes. Whisk in 5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, a few pieces at a time, until completely incorporated. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover surface with plastic to prevent a skin from forming, and set aside to let cool.
2. In a medium bowl, whip the cold, heavy cream until it holds soft peaks, adding powdered sugar to taste if desired. Fold into the lemon curd and chill in refrigerator.Assembly:
1. Place one meringue disk on a large plate. Spread half of the lemon curd whipped cream evenly overall. Scatter assortment of berries over lemon cream. Place second layer on top and repeat with remaining lemon curd whipped cream and berries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
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A rainy weekend was spent in the kitchen baking Sour Cherry Focaccia. The same master dough recipe that was used for making Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls, was the foundation of this delicious focaccia with tart cherries and almonds.
Again, as with the Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls, the only change I made to the original recipe was to add additional flour (about 3-4 tablespoons) to the dough while mixing. Both times the dough was wet. I slowly added spoonfuls of flour to the dough until it was still soft, but did not stick to the sides of the mixing bowl.
I have a busy day ahead of me in the kitchen, making a Pavlova birthday cake for my daughter's 20th! Find the recipe for Bon Appétit's Sour Cherry Focaccia HERE.
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My S'mores Sandwich Cookies are the result of avoidance. I have been meaning to start a painting project; a project that I find over-whelming. Twenty years ago we converted a 3-season sunroom into a year-round space. The tongue-in-groove wood ceiling, walls, and trim, are painted purple, orange, and green -- a phase I was going through. My husband and I laid Mexican terra cotta tiles over newly-installed infloor heat. The brightly colored room has been the perfect backdrop for white canvas slipcovered furniture, old wicker, and plants; with large casement windows surrounding the entire space, it feels more like a screened porch during the summer months.
After 20 years, the paint is showing its age -- plus, I am just tired of it! My entire house has become quieter over the years, transitioning over to creamier historical colors. But as much as I'd like to see this room become what I've envisioned, I'm having trouble getting started on the work. I picked the paint color, but instead of running to the paint store to buy my supplies, I ran to my kitchen and started working on S'mores Sandwich Cookies.
To make S'mores Sandwich Cookies: I started by making Marshmallow Crème. After I had the crème refrigerated, I made the Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers with Turbinado Sugar. Once the crackers have cooled, give the marshmallow crème a stir, and spoon into a pastry bag. Pipe the crème onto a cracker (I used a 2-inch round cutter for my crackers. The marshmallow crème recipe was enough to fill 20 graham cracker cookies). After all of the marshmallow crème has been piped, use either a kitchen butane torch or the oven broiler to brown the crème. Mix semi-sweet chocolate chips with salted butter in a double boiler. As far as amounts go, I probably used 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips and just kept adding butter until good dipping consistency. Dip filled S'mores into the melted chocolate. Place dipped cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It is best to let the chocolate set up and harden a bit before eating, but you may find it difficult to wait that long ;P Another option: sprinkle marshmallow crème with chocolate chips before torching, and melt your chocolate that way (sans butter).
If I disappear for several weeks you can assume that I have begun work on repainting my sunroom; that is unless I can bribe the painter, who I use for jobs I just don't want to tackle, to trade for a year of desserts?
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I did it! The big splurge. Still the most basic Viking range out there -- gas oven and cooktop. But the difference between this model and my former Viking range of 20 years is huge (convection, which I'm sure I will appreciate when baking). I wasn't planning on purchasing a new range quite yet, but Viking has just discontinued this color -- Kettle Black. I usually tend to choose matte over shiny and it was now or never. Hopefully, it will serve me well the during next 20 years!
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A weekend breakfast? Easter brunch? A platter of Bacon & Egg Tarts with Cornmeal and Black Pepper Pastry is perfect for either. Another easily prepared morning meal when you start a day ahead. Make the pastry dough, then line and freeze the tartlet pans overnight. (I recommend freezing the dough-lined tartlet pans for at least 30 minutes even if planning to bake the tarts immediately.) Bake the individual tart crusts the morning you plan to serve. Fry the bacon, fill the baked tartlet crusts and bake another 15 minutes or so, depending on size and depth of tins. Add a fruit or leafy green salad and, Voilà... breakfast!
I made small individual tarts filled with Parmesan cheese, apple-smoked bacon, and eggs in cornmeal and coarse black pepper crusts for breakfast today. I used shallow Matfer tin molds, but muffin tins would also work nicely, and hold more of the ingredients. Since the tart crusts I made were small and shallow, I ended up separating the yolks from the whites,and placing one yolk in each tart shell. I then added back egg whites to the tart shells by the teaspoonfull. Cracking a whole egg into a bacon and Parmesan-filled shell resulted in much of the egg white spilling out and onto the baking sheet. Using muffin tins with deeper cavities would prevent this from happening.
Rectangular Financier Molds (3 7/8-by-1 7/8-inches)
Round Tartlet Molds (3 3/8-inch diameter)
or, Muffin Tins
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
• 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 4 tablespoons ice water
FILLING, PER INDIVIDUAL SERVING:
• 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
• 1/2 strip apple-smoked bacon, partially cooked but still pliable; either left whole or diced
• 1 medium organic egg
• minced fresh parsley, for sprinkling
TO MAKE THE TART CRUSTS:
1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and coarse black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse briefly, until the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water while continuing to pulse and stop when the dough just begins to clump. Do not over-process.
2. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap; flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic; refrigerate 2 hours before rolling.
3. Roll the pastry dough, dusted lightly with flour, in between a sheet of wax paper and plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Line the tartlet molds and trim along the edges. There should be enough pastry dough to line approximately 20 tartlet molds. NOTE... a little trick I learned from my niece who attended the French Culinary Institute: Top the dough-lined tartlet mold with an identical mold, pressing together gently; freeze for at least 30 minutes. Turn the tartlet molds upside-down on a sheet pan to bake. This will reduce shrinkage of the tart crust while baking.
4. If using muffin tins instead of tartlet molds, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch and cut rounds with a 4-inch diameter cookie cutter (or use a 4-inch diameter plate as a template and cut rounds with a sharp knife). Gently, and without stretching, press the pastry into the muffin tin. Because of the depth of muffin tins, the dough will crease in places. Be patient and genty press pastry onto the bottom and sides. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to bake, line each pastry with a small round of wax paper and fill with dried beans. This will help avoid shrinkage of the tart dough while baking. You will get approximately 10 tarts with this recipe if using muffin tins.
5. Place the tarlet molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and/or muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 400˚F oven. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the wax paper and dried beans from the tart shells. The crusts should be a light golden color. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F.
FILLING and BAKING:
1. Sprinkle the bottom of each tart crust with enough Parmesan to cover, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. If using an entire 1/2 slice of cooked bacon, lay the slice over the Parmesan, bending to fit molds. Separate the egg yolk from the whites and place egg yolk in tart shell; add egg whites to the tart shell by the teaspoonful. If making tarts using the muffin tins, it will not be necessary to separate the egg yolk from the white; but add the entire egg to the muffin tin tart crust very slowly.
2. Bake tarts on the middle rack of the 350˚F oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the egg is done to your liking. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the minced fresh parsley. Serve.
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I feel pretty lucky. We have the greatest friends and neighbors. Whenever my husband talks about relocating to warmer climes, my response is always -- I could never leave all of our friends (or my kitchen!).
Case in point... yesterday a friend of ours who hunts morel mushrooms in the spring, and then dries them, made a huge pot of morel soup -- to share with us! He delivered it to our house in time for dinner, along with a loaf of bread from a local bakery. (See, aren't we lucky?) The soup was incredible and loaded with big slivers of morels -- a RARE treat. To show my appreciation, I made two Chocolate-Orange Ganache Tarts -- one for us and one to send home with our friends. A little decadent dessert after big bowls of earthy, rich morel soup. The grated zest of one large blood orange was added to the ganache and segments of the orange topped the tart. I suggest using a 60% bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate I used had a much higher percentage of bittersweet, and I compensated by really sweetening my whipped cream with powdered sugar and coarse orange sugar by ZUK-ZAK.
FOR THE CRUST:
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 4 tablespoons ice water
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE ( recipe: Martha Stewart)
• 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• Grated zest of 1 large orange, preferably organic
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water to the flour while pulsing, just until the dough starts to clump and come together. If the dough does not hold together when squeezed between your fingers, add more ice water, drop by drop, until it does. Do not over-process. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and wrap completely. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Roll the dough between lightly-floured sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Transfer dough to a tart pan (I lined two 7-inch tart pans, but one 9- to 10-inch would substitute) and gently press into the pan without stretching the dough. Trim the edges and place in the freezer while preheating the oven.
3. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Remove tart pan from the freezer. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with dry beans or rice. Place pan on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans or rice and return tart pan to oven. Reduce heat to 325˚F. Continue to bake the tart shell until golden brown. Remove from oven. Keep oven heat at 325˚F.
TO MAKE THE GANACHE:
1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. Combine the heavy cream and milk in a saucepan; bring almost to a boil. Pour the liquid over the chocolate and let rest for 2 minutes. Whisk the mixture until smooth and let rest another 10 minutes. Whisk the orange zest and beaten egg into the chocolate.
TO MAKE THE TART:
1. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the chocolate-orange ganache into the pre-baked tart shell. On the middle rack of the oven, bake the tart at 325˚F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. When cool, garnish tart with sweetened, whipped heavy cream and orange slices.
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"Grown-up" Tuna Noodle Casserole before baking
Time has slipped away from me lately. Seems I've been busy with things that have kept out of my kitchen more than I like. We've still had some great meals, but I haven't been taking photos. I just made one of the best risottos that I've ever eaten, but you know how it goes with risotto -- you want to eat it the moment that last ladle-full of broth is stirred into the pot. Plus, I had people (yes, you're correct in assuming it was family) who would openly voice their major discontent at not eating immediately. Stopping for a photo shoot would have been impossible, and possibly dangerous.
One dish I've made recently -- twice in the span of one week -- is this Grown-up Tuna Noodle Casserole. We are crazy for it! The "grown-up" must come from the wine that's added to the sauce and possibly the addition of capers to the recipe; adult comfort food, for sure. I substituted sweet sherry for the wine the first time I made it, and dry sherry the second. This tuna noodle casserole is also the reason I have been putting cremini mushrooms in just about everything lately (e.g. Potato and Mushroom Tortes)
. So, with an outlook of continuing to be busy with stuff -- a possible painting project, a requested hand-knit, and a new range installation this week [yay!] -- I will forward you to the recipe for Grown-up Tuna Noodle Casserole from the Kitchn. recipe >>> GROWN-UP TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
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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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