Monday, July 27, 2009

Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust

As many of you know when figs came into season about 6 weeks ago (I could actually give you the day if I think hard enough), I was SO HAPPY. I adore figs with their mix of silky sweetness and seedy crunch. I actually grew up with a fig tree and had many sunny afternoons playing on my creaky swing set and picking figs off our sticky sappy tree. Those were the days. I really had no idea how lucky I was. We also had a huge avocado tree, orange tree, lemon tree and if I remember correctly, an apricot tree. What do I have now??? A sad little herb pot and wilty mint. That's about all you can do with a condo deck. Luckily I've put my order in for a drip irrigation garden with my architect husband. Patience is a virtue and I'm ready to wait.

In the meantime, I will have to buy figs. Or eat the ones people generously bring over. Which is exactly what happened last night. Completely unaware of my fig fanaticism, our friends Jason and Dawn brought over a GORGEOUS homemade fig tart. Jason is a brilliant cook and architect, and is all about taste, presentation and precision. Don't worry if your tart doesn't come out that perfect. Mine sure as heck wouldn't. I've change the recipe only slightly to use organic dairy and well-sourced sugar.

Now go get the last figs of the season. They are only around for a week or two more. Enjoy!

Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream

From A Lazy Front Porch Supper, July 2003

Serves 6

Active time: 1 1/4 hr
Start to finish: 1
3/4 hr

For crust

  • 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
  • 1 tablespoon rapadura (unrefined cane sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) organic cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I like Strauss Creamery)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For filling

  • 1/3 cup sour cream (Organic Valley or Nancy's are good)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese (it's hard to find organic so go for all-natural)
  • 1/4 cup rapadura or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons favorite fruit-sweetened jelly
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh figs

Special equipment: an 11 1/4- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular or 10-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom

Make crust: Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful. If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.

Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ยบ. Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don't worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.

Prepare filling and assemble tart: Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl. Heat jelly and honey in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking, until jelly is melted, about 4 minutes, then cool glaze slightly. Remove side of tart pan and spread mascarpone cream in shell. Cut figs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange decoratively over cream. Brush figs with honey glaze.

Crust can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Mascarpone mixture can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Tart can be assembled 1 hour ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Squidgy Eggs

Growing up, I took my eggs scrambled. Although thinking back a chef might say I ate my eggs scrambles to a crisp. I called them dry. My mom would actually serve everyone else their eggs and then keep mine in the pan until I deemed them ready for consumption. If they landed on my plate with a hint of moisture (what I then called snotty stuff), back they went into the pan. I required them dry to the point I needed a glass of juice to choke them down. Ah, perfect! I don't eat scrambled eggs anymore but if I did, they'd still have to be scrambled to hell. From a health perspective, scrambling actually it's the best way the eat an egg because the heat of the pan damages the delicate nutrients. I now take my eggs in squidgy form. What is squidgy you ask? It's a perfectly boiled egg that contains a very firm white and a somewhat soft yolk. Not a runny yolk, god-forbid, but semi-firm on the outside and just a hint of yellowish orange creamy softness in the middle. A truely divine thing.

So where did the squidgy egg come from? I wish I could take credit for this amazing onomatopoeia but I can't. It is one of the many beautifully inventive words of my dear friend Jacqueline. Pajamas are "namas", The Natural Grocery is "natty gross", and perfectly soft boiled eggs are squidgy. Just trying to interpret her lingo adds up for a delightful evening.

Interestingly enough, rarely do I eat eggs for breakfast. I actually prefer them in the evening for a quick dinner. Who says dinner has to be a big production? Just last night Gray and I had green salad laden with avocado and cilantro, thyme-roasted potatoes, and squidgy eggs smothered in basil pesto. These eggs are also delicious with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of tamari (natural soy sauce). The sour and salty mixed with the fatty yolk...stupid good!


Squidgy Eggs

2 eggs, **make sure to buy the best eggs you can find. Pasture raised are ideal but if you can't find them go for organic and cage-free.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Gently place your eggs in the boiling water and reduce to a medium simmer for 7 minutes. (I know this seems precise, and it is). Immediately take the eggs out of the water and run under cold water for 2 minutes, or until the shells cooled a bit. This separates the egg from the shell and makes it easier to peel.

Peel the egg, cut it open to find a perfectly soft center and serve with your favorite accouterments (salsa, chopped avocado, tahini sauce, pesto) or just a simple sprinkle of salt.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thyme Scented Peach Crisp

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to get a surprise call. Our friends asked if we wanted a few peaches from their parents yard. "Of course", I gushed into the phone. Little did I know what I got myself into. I was thinking 10-15 peaches, max. Oh no! These lovely people unloaded about 35 peaches (maybe it's closer to 40) on us. Now, I like peaches as much as the next girl but you should see my kitchen. I've got peaches lined up on the counter like a little fruit army. They make the kitchen smell great however I think it's time to put them in their final resting place...the freezer. Freezing leftover fruit is awesome! Just chop it up into cubes or slices, toss in a freezer bag, and you've got delicious peaches ready for oatmeal, a smoothie, or a crisp.

I decided to make a crisp with the most ripe peaches rather than freeze them. Wait, let me rephrase. Gray begged for a crisp and so I gave in. I rarely make desserts, primarily because I eat them! A sweet treat now and then is perfectly fine but let's just say I've got a problem with portion control. The thing is, I LOVE my desserts. I can easily say no to oozy gooey desserts in a restaurant, but my own stuff (or my mom's stuff), no way! Here is the crunchy, sweet and so good crisp I put together. The great thing about a crisp is that you can easily make it out of whatever you want. This recipe is fantastic all year round. Use plums, apples, pears, berries...anything goes. Also, feel free to use any combination of sweeteners. I used a mix of maple syrup and brown rice syrup but you could also use rapadura (a natural cane sugar), date sugar, or barley malt. When using liquid sweeteners remember that the topping will be wetter than you may be used to. Don't worry, it crisps up beautifully and tastes amazing.

Have fun experimenting and enjoy!

PS The leftovers are pretty good too. Gray likes to eat them for breakfast. Why not, it's just peaches, oats and nuts right???

Thyme Scented Peach Crisp

FYI: This crisp can also be make GLUTEN FREE. Substitute almond flour for the whole wheat pastry flour and sunflower seeds for the oats.

6-7 peaches, washed, cored, and dice
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup walnuts, pecans, almonds (make a good combination)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. coriander
Pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp. coconut oil or organic butter

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 11x13 pyrex baking dish. In a bowl combine peaches, lemon juice and thyme and spread evenly in the baking pan. In another bowl combine sweeteners, flour, rolled oats, nuts, spices, and sea salt. With your hands, work softened coconut oil/butter into the dry ingredients until evenly combined and there are no large lumps. Spread topping on top of the peaches and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Pilaf

Here's the great dish I mentioned yesterday on Home with Lisa Quinn. May I just say, I love being on TV. Perhaps its the fact that everyone was so lovely and accommodating and Lisa herself is just a doll (I sound like my grandmother). I will let you all know when the episode airs but for now enjoy the recipe. I actually made a double batch and took the extras over to my friends' Sari and Siddharth's house. They just had a beautiful baby girl Nina and have had very little time to cook. After taking one bite Sari exclaimed, "Jamie, this is so good! I just love your food." Best complement ever! Be sure to make extra to share with friends, family, or yourself. It stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days and is perfect for a quick weekend lunch.

Sundried Tomato and Kalamata Olive Pilaf

Serves 3-4

1 cup brown rice (short grain, basmati, or jasmine), washed and picked over

2 1/2 cups water

1-2 tbsp. organic extra virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped kalamata olives

½ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

½ cup toasted pine nuts

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (reconstituted in water)

Celtic sea salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt and the brown rice to the water. When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, until the rice is tender and has begun to separate. Transfer the rice to a large glass bowl.

Add olive oil, olives, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and tomatoes to the rice. Combine well and add salt to taste. You can also add in a can of blanched garbanzo beans for added texture and protein. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lemon Roasted Garbanzos with Spring Onion

I'm sure you've figured out that I am a planner. Planning definitely creates a sense of comfort in me. I'm using the word "plan" rather than "control" but if we are all being open and honest, I like controlling things too. Anyway, since coming back from my retreat I've made a conscious effort to plan less. Actually let's not get crazy. Rather I'm making an effort to go with the flow. Since declaring my new release of life, Gray is trying his darnedest to test me. For example, Thursday night at 4 pm he casually mentioned he invited a couple over for dinner. Now I really like this couple, that wasn't the problem. The problem was that I had not PLANNED to cook for 4. My immediate response was NO. Gray, you better get your tush on the phone and uninvite them because I said NO. One thing to know about my husband is that he is innately driven by fun. He didn't invite this couple over to drive me crazy but rather saw an opportunity to share good food and good laughs. So, of course, he had to jump on it. (Much like our relationship, in fact.)

How could I let my sweet boy down? I also realized this was the perfect opportunity to practice going with the flow. I'm a health and lifestyle expert (new title!) for goodness sake, I can whip something up. I have to say the dish was a hit. Not only did our guests call it exotic (very exciting) but they ate it all. No leftovers! Ah, the Jewish grandmother in me was so proud. We ended the evening with an impromptu game of Wii Tennis (again, not planned) and really had a fantastic and stress free night.

No matter how I love to jump the gun, I cannot yet say I am a "go with the flow" master. However, I'm practicing everyday and I will admit, it's getting easier and easier.

Lemon Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Spring Onions

Serves 4

3 cans organic garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
3 medium sized spring onions with green stems, cut in half and sliced into half moons (you can also used regular yellow or red onions if you like)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (Love Meyer lemons as much as I do? Then check this out!)
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dry the rinsed and drained garbanzos with a paper towel until most of the mixture in gone. Place the beans in a large mixing bowl and add olive oil, onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, and coriander.

Spread the garbanzo and onion mixture out on two Pyrex baking dishes (Mine are 8 1/2 x 11). You can also use cookies sheets. Just make sure the mixture is evenly spread and the beans aren't touching each other too much. If they are too close they will steam instead of roast.

Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes, stirring 2-3 times. When done the beans will be a bit crisp and the onions a sweet golden brown. Place in a large bowl and toss in your fresh herbs and a dash of sea salt.

Serve with a beautiful green salad and herbed quinoa or jasmine rice with kalamata olives. (recipe coming soon!) Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Breakfast Saute

So, what do you eat when there is next to nothing in a fridge. Makeshift saute, I say. Looking in the fridge this morning this is what I saw.

Leftover lentils with sauteed onions and kale
1 yellow summer squash
pumpkin seeds
1 Meyer lemon from my mom's tree (thank you lemon tree!)
ghee (lactose free, clarified butter)

I was nervous about the summer squash as it had been in the fridge since before I left on my retreat almost two weeks ago. Still firm to the touch and looking half way decent, I thought what the heck. (On a side note, the only reason why this dear squash survived was because I stored it in a green bag. These things are amazing! I swear they should be paying me for how often I push this product!)

Here's what you do to make a great summer saute:

Heat up 1 teaspoon of ghee in a medium sauce pan. You can use olive oil or butter if you like but I just love the sweet rounded flavor ghee gives to squash. Ghee is also wonderful in aiding digestion. Slice the squash into 1/4 inch strips. Lay squash flat in the pan and cook each side until they begin to soften and have a slightly golden color. Squeeze in a bit of lemon and toss in your leftover lentils and greens. Stir all the ingredients together until just warmed through. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve. This would also be great with chopped up avocado.

The great thing about this breakfast is that is releases you from the notion that breakfast has to be sweet. This American construct is really bizarre especially since most other cultures prefer savory morning meals. It's always fun to try something new so open up your mind to the idea that what you ate for dinner is also a good breakfast option (No, cold pizza does not count). Be sure to let me know how it turns out!