Friday, 15 August 2014

TasteSpotting Faves

Bakewell Tart

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds


Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Assembling the tart:

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Lavender cod with grilled fennel and potato salad, roasted tomato

Ingredients for 2:

For the cod:

2 cod fillets
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
lavender salt

For the vegetables:

2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 potatoes, sliced crosswise
1 heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs mint, finely chopped
one pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbs olive oil + 1
salt and pepper
Fleur de sel for the tomato


First prepare the potatoes. Drizzle them with salt, pepper, olive oil and cider vinegar. Place in the oven and broil on both sides until golden brown and cooked all the way through. While potatoes are cooking, grill the fennel on a grill pan. Add fennel to the potatoes.

Drizzle cod with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil on both sides until cooked all the way through.

Grill tomatoes on grill pan.

In a small mixing bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour on top of fennel, potato mixture and toss.

Add lavender salt on top of cod, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

Add Fleur de sel and pepper on top of tomato halves and a little olive oil.

Serve each item in a plate.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream


1 ear corn (kernels reserved, cut into 1 inch slices)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks


1. Simmer the corn cob in the heavy cream and milk for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the corn cob.
3. Add the corn kernels and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Temper the egg yolks and add them along with the sugar and vanilla extract to the pan.
5. Cook at low heat until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
6. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
7. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream machine.

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Sizzling Summer Snacks

Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione

3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 tablespoons vin santo or other lightly sweet dessert wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt
2 pounds large asparagus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a heatproof medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the egg and vin santo. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water and vigorously whisk the eggs over moderate heat until the sauce holds firm peaks, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl of sauce from the heat.
In a small bowl, mix the butter with the heavy cream and pepper. Whisk the cream mixture into the sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Season the zabaglione with salt and keep warm.
In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt. Grill the asparagus over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to plates.
Set the bowl of sauce over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk over low heat until thick and just heated through, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the asparagus, sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Squid Pizza with Saffron Aioli

Pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Cayenne pepper
6 ounces cleaned squid—tentacles halved, bodies sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
6 ounces pizza dough
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 teaspoon chopped marjoram
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a pizza stone. In a small bowl, crumble the saffron into the water; let steep for 5 minutes. In a blender or bowl, beat the egg yolk with the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Gradually add the 3/4 cup of olive oil, beating constantly, until very thick. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and the saffron water and season the aioli with salt and cayenne.
In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the squid, season with salt and black pepper and cook over high heat until just starting to whiten, 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 12-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the round to a lightly floured pizza peel. Leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough, brush the round with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Scatter the onion slices over the round and top with the squid, tomato and marjoram.
Slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until the bottom is crisp. Transfer the pizza to a work surface and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the aioli. Reserve the remaining aioli for another use. Garnish the pizza with the parsley, cut into wedges and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The saffron aioli can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Grilled Tomato Crostini

Four 3/4-inch-thick slices of ciabatta bread
1 garlic clove, halved
Juicy Grilled Tomatoes
Olive oil, for drizzling
20 small basil leaves

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the ciabatta until toasted and charred in spots, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plates and rub with the garlic halves. Spoon the tomatoes and their juices over the grilled bread and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and basil and serve.

Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Pepperoncini

1 pound cucumbers—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped, plus cucumber spears for serving
10 small pepperoncini—4 stemmed, seeded and chopped, plus 1/4 cup of liquid from the jar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a blender, puree the chopped cucumbers with the chopped pepperoncini, the pickling liquid, 2 tablespoons of the dill, the yogurt and buttermilk until very smooth. Stir in the cumin and the remaining dill and season with salt. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Ladle the soup into 6 bowls. Serve each bowl with a whole pepperoncini and cucumber spears on the side.
NOTES The soup can also be served in cups, as in the recipe photo.

See more Italian Summer Recipes from Food and Wine

Friday, 1 August 2014

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Mushroom Madness

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Quiche


1 9-inch pie crust (your favorite recipe or store bought)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons marsala wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 oz Vermont Creamery Classic Chevre
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh dill
4 eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground yellow mustard


Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Roll out pie crust and line a 9-inch pie pan. Return to fridge to chill while you prepare the quiche ingredients.
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium to medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and mushrooms have a nice sear on them about 15 minutes. Turn heat up to medium-high and add marsala wine. Stir until the wine evaporates. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a medium size bowl, beat eggs, half and half, salt, pepper and yellow mustard; set aside.
Take pie shell from fridge. Scatter onion and mushroom mixture evenly over the base of the dish. Sprinkle with chunks of the goat cheese and sprinkle with fresh dill. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese.
Bake in a preheated 375F degree oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into. Serve warm or at room temperature.



2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 dried bay leaf
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
16 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry
32 oz beef broth
1 cup cooked barley
salt and pepper


1. Melt the olive oil and butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften. Add day leaf, thyme sprigs, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute, stirring often for another 20-25 minutes until mushrooms and onions start to caramelize. Take note that you might need to adjust the temperature on your stove while cooking. If the heat is too high, the mushrooms and onions will burn. If the heat is too low, the onions and mushrooms will become soggy as they release their liquid. You want the temperature just right so that the liquid evaporates and the onions and mushrooms caramelize.
2. When the mushrooms start to brown, turn the heat to medium-high add the sherry. Scrape up the yummy brown bits at the bottom of the pan and stir just until the sherry has evaporated. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Return heat to low and let the sop simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add the cooked barley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. If desired, top soup with some freshly grated parmesan.

Bacon and Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


8 oz bacon
1/2 cup finely minced sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
16 oz white button mushrooms
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut raw bacon into small pieces. In a large saute pan, over medium heat, cook bacon until nice and crispy. While bacon is cooking, remove mushroom stems from caps and chop stems into small pieces. When bacon is done, remove from pan and set aside; reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and pour the rest from pan. Saute onion until soft about 5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Add chopped mushrooms stems and garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Reduce heat to low. Add cream cheese and parmesan cheese and stir until cheeses are melted. Add reserved chopped bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Mixture can be made, cooled, and stored, covered, in the fridge for up to two days.) Remove mixture from heat and stuff each mushroom cap generously with mixture. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and filling is nice and hot.

See more from Mountain Mama Cooks

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Flowery Food

Ricotta-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I like to use a drier ricotta in this recipe as it seems to hold together better while cooking. If yours is more liquid, perhaps strain it for a few minutes before mixing in the other ingredients. I also like to use only one egg, but if you want a smoother texture, you may want to use two eggs. Many people use a tempura batter for these as well, but although tasty, it seems to overpower the filling, This little "breading" treatment results in a nice crispy exterior without all the hassle of true deep frying.
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer, 2 as a meal

8 large squash blossoms
1 cup ricotta cheese (dry and slightly crumbly texture is good)
1 large whole egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup minced herbs (parsley and basil are nice)
ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
olive oil

1. Gently ease open the blossoms and remove stamen, trying not to damage petals (although it is sure to happen, so don't worry too much!)
2. Heat an inch or two of oil in a cast iron pan or pot over medium heat.
3. Combine ricotta, 1 whole egg, parmesan, herbs and pepper in a small bowl until smooth.
4. Opening blossoms, place approximately 2 tbsp of filling into each blossom. Twist end of blossom to keep it closed. Repeat with remainging blossoms.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white and 1 tbsp water until foamy. In another small bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. 
6. Dip each blossom into the egg mixture and turn to coat entire blossom. Gently roll in flour mixture. Repeat.
7. When oil is shimmering and hot (drop a small piece of flour into oil or end of wooden spoon in to see if it sizzles), gently ease blossoms into the hot oil. If it begins to burn, reduce heat before adding more blossoms. Working in a batch of 3 or 4, cook until golden and turn to cook other side for a total of approximately 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining. Hold in low oven if desired for a few minutes. Sprinkle with just a hint of sea salt before serving.