Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Fennel and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet

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“Summer’s here!” proclaimed my youngest daughter several years ago as she climbed into bed full of satisfaction that she was without the need to set her alarm in preparation for another day of school. The time for formal education had come to a close for the year. The structure and the rhythm of a school year released into the dreamier, looser days of summer, opening up the unstructured, but no less important, time of summer discovery and adventure.

At least that’s what we think summer should be – one big adventure. My memories of summer, on the other hand, are like a jigsaw puzzle of moments of boredom interspersed with swimming, reading, and capture the flag which then circled back around to boredom. I lost myself in books time and time again, then would leave that imaginary world for another by the creek or in the swimming pool and then onward to a game of capture the flag. Back to listless ennui and the cycle repeated itself.

As I look back on my childhood and compare a similar rhythm to my own children’s summer days, I don’t regret that boredom.  From those moments of lethargy came inspiration and imagination.  As my girls grew, I was privileged to witness the same transformation in them.  And what came after boredom was always full of creativity and fun.

Just as the schedule of summer loosens and becomes more elastic and flexible, what we eat and how we prepare it does too. The structure of recipes and needing meals to be on time and planned around family schedules relaxes. The found treasures of the farmer’s markets turn into impromptu salads, pastas, pizzas, grilled anything or… tartlets.

This is the time of year to be playful and creative with your time and your meals. Enjoy both!

Prosciutto, Chèvre, Fennel, and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet
While this dish is delicious with the fennel and red pepper, the sky is really the limit when it comes to the meat, cheese, and vegetables that you use. Substitute some Genoa salami, an aged cheddar, spinach, and spring onions OR bacon, Parmesan, zucchini, and tomatoes OR grilled chicken, mozzarella, and pea shoots OR strips of salmon, farmer’s cheese, fresh corn, and cherry tomatoes…. Play with what you find from the farmer’s market or what you have leftover in the refrigerator from another meal.

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon ice cold water

Filling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced fennel; about 1/2 bulb
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper, seeded and cored; about 1 pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
4 ounces crumbled chèvre; about 1 cup
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about ¼ cup lightly packed

Crust
In a food processor pulse flour, salt, and butter. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time until it forms a ball. Remove from processor, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready, dust the surface of the counter with flour and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Press into an 11-inch tart pan. Cover with parchment paper and beans or pie beads and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Meanwhile prepare the filling. When the crust is done, remove from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and add the filling mixtures beginning with the fennel and then the chèvre. Lay the prosciutto slices on top and sprinkle with thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese.

Filling
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the fennel, peppers, onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, mash the chèvre with a fork and add the eggs one at a time incorporating each time until there are few if any lumps in the mixture. Add the half and half and mix well.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the center is just barely cooked and still wiggly. Serve hot or room temperature.

Serves 6

Annie
Get bored, then get creative

Chicken Paprikash with Wide Hand-cut Noodles

Several weeks ago, a friend surprised me by bringing dinner to my family – unannounced and seemingly without cause. There hadn’t been a death or tragedy in our family. She just knew that I’d had a busy week, could see that I was a little ragged around the edges, and could use a little care. It’s rare when someone makes me dinner and it was such a gift to be given a night off from the planning all the way to the cleanup for one busy weeknight.  Thank you, Friend.

Holding that care in my heart long after the meal had disappeared from our plates, I was making this Chicken Paprikash several nights later and decided to make extra. To pay that care given to me forward to another friend, also a busy working mom.

Chicken Paprikash with Wide Cut Noodles Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Chicken Paprikash
This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The dark meat on chicken is much more flavorful and in a stew type dish holds up a little longer, allowing for an extended cooking time to develop more flavor before it completely falls apart in shreds as chicken breasts are likely to do.

If you plan to freeze or refrigerate this dish to serve later, leave out the sour cream. When you reheat it, add the sour cream just before serving. It won’t curdle if you freeze it and it will keep longer if you refrigerate it.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
1 1/2 cups diced green bell pepper, seeded and diced; about 1 large pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
several dashes of Worcestershire
8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered; about 3 cups
1 cup sour cream
2 ounces finely shaved Romano cheese; about 1 cup lightly packed (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large, wide stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, salt, and pepper to the pot and cook until browned on all sides. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and paprika and sauté for another 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste, stirring for about a minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, and Worcestershire. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Add water if needed. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

Stir in the sour cream. Serve with noodles, potatoes, rice, or polenta. Garnish with Romano cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

Wide Hand Cut Noodles Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Wide Hand Cut Noodles

Wide Hand Cut Noodles

Wide Hand-cut Noodles
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 teaspoons or more water, if needed

On the counter, combine flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and yolks into the well and stir with the tips of your fingers working the flour on the outside into the eggs. Add enough water to bring the mix together in a ball. The water will vary with the size of the eggs and the moisture in the flour. Turn it out onto the counter and knead for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover to prevent a dry skin from forming and let rest for 45 minutes. Roll out the dough using a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine to create sheets of pasta, dusting with flour where needed.  You should be able to see through the sheets when you are finished. Lay the sheets of pasta out on the counter and roll them up loosely into a log.  Cut strips 3/4-inch wide and then toss to loosen the roll until you are ready to cook.

When ready to serve, drop the pasta loosely into a pot of salted, boiling water. Stir well but gently. The pasta is done when it floats or is al dente – just the tiniest bit firm when you bite into it, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

Sailing in Maine – Life is Good!

Yup, well the photo says it all for me…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Sailing.  In Maine.  On the Riggin.  Eating Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup.  Done.

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

And as for the recipe…

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Chicken and Homemade Ravioli Soup
Make your own chicken stock
Saute diced onions, carrots, and celery in butter
Add some white wine, sea salt, and fresh black pepper
Add stock, then chicken picked from the bones
Add the fresh ravioli just before serving along with fresh herbs
Serve with grated Parmesan if you like

homemade chicken noodle soup, leftover ravioli, chicken soup recipe, sailing in maine, sailing on the bay, maine windjammer

Annie
Life IS good!

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Kale over Basmati Rice

Thump, thump, thump, clang, clatter annnnd done.  That’s the sound of me racing to the kitchen to make dinner at halftime last night.  Yes, the Patriots played and I was glued to my seat the entire game save a hurried trip to the kitchen.  Even though I grocery shopped last week, this weekend’s snow storm left us a little light on ingredients.  Rather than brave the roads and the storm (or leave the game for any reason), I rummaged in the pantry and dug into the freezer to find a group of ingredients that could make a quick dinner.

Halftimes and football games not withstanding, rummaging and digging for ingredients which then become a delicious meal is, without question, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.  It’s actually also a little calming.  Rather than having so many options with a wealth of ingredients, the restriction of “what’s on hand” actually makes the creation process easier, with only a few choices rather than unlimited options.

It’s also, for many, a different way to think about cooking.  Rather than planning a menu and shopping to that plan, which I also highly recommend, the rummage and dig method, or “freezer diving” as I like to call it, is a perfect way to reduce waste, use up what’s on hand, and spend a little less at the grocery store.

Hope you like this quick, healthy meal!

thai peanut shrimp and kale over basmati rice

Thai Peanut Shrimp and Baby Kale over Basmati Rice
Rice
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shrimp and Kale
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/2 tablespoon minced lemon grass
1/2 Thai chili, seeds removed and julienned
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger: about 1/2 ginger root
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 3 cloves
4 cups light packed baby kale
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16 to 20 count)
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Rice
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Add to the boiling water, cover and remove from heat after 15 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.  Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp and kale.

Shrimp and Kale
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and then the onion and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon grass, chili, ginger and garlic and sauté for another 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kale and the rest of the ingredients except the shrimp. When everything is well incorporated and at a simmer, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 4 minutes watching closely until the shrimp just turns pink all the way through. Serve over basmati rice with garnishes.

Serves 4 to 6

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts

Poached Salmon with Aspragus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts by Elizabeth Poisson

Last month I shared Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli and have another to share as a companion recipe.  This salad goes nicely with the salmon and is a good one for this time of year when we are all interested in fare that is light and healthy.   I mean, you haven’t jumped off the veggie wagon yet, right?  (Me either 🙂 )  I think I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
There are two ways to prepare the orange sections for this recipe. One is simply to peel the orange and separate the sections. The second is to peel the orange with a knife, called supreme or supreming (I mean how does one actually spell this word?), by slicing off the top and bottom and running your knife between the flesh and the rind. You then run your knife along both sides of the section membranes to remove only the flesh. This is a nicer way to serve the orange, but also a bit more complicated. Choose whichever suits your comfort level..

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for both sautéing and the salad)
2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1 bunch or 15 to 20 stalks
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese; about 1/4 cup
1 orange, sectioned, “carcass” reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
2 pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and spread out to cool quickly. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the “carcass” of the orange on top of the greens and toss gently with your hands. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Still on the veggie wagon

Easy Holiday Baking – Lemon Madeleines

These little gems are best eaten shortly after they come out of the oven, but the batter can wait in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake and this is why I love them for entertaining.  Typically served with coffee or tea, these little ‘cakes’ are beautiful on any cookie tray.  You can even bake them ahead of time and freeze them.  If you choose this route, let them come to room temperature first and then dust them with powdered sugar before serving.

Lemon Madelines Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Some of my other favorite holiday baking recipes are Buche de Noel; Chocolate Rosemary Tart; Holiday Pumpkin Roll; Apricot Orange Pound CakeChocolate Candy Cane Cookies; Pear Frangipane TartWhite Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan Bars; Snickerdoodles; and Lemon Curd Cheesecake.

 

Lemon Madelines Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Lemon Madeleines
I used to make these for the girls as an afternoon snack on winter days.  The initial recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan, my hero, in Baking with Julia and then was first published in Sugar & Salt: The Blue Book.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for the madeleine pan
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest; about 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 12-cookie madeleine pan generously. Sift the flour and 1 tablespoon of sugar onto parchment paper or waxed paper and set aside. Combine the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and immediately begin to whisk with either the whisk attachment or a hand-held mixer until the color has lightened considerably; the volume has tripled and the mixer forms ribbons on the surface for 10 seconds or so. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest and whisk briefly. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the sifted flour and sugar in thirds. Add a little bit of the batter to the melted butter and gently fold, then fold the butter mixture into the rest of the batter in the mixing bowl. Do this ever so gently. Rest the batter in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until the cookies are spongy in the middle. Remove from pan and set on a cooling rack. Wipe the cookie pan clean, butter again generously, spoon rest of batter into the forms and bake again for 5 to 6 minutes.

Makes 24 cookies

Annie
Yum!

Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemaryt Cheese with Apricot Preserves by Elizabeth Poisson

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Four – Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more.  Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
One – Leftover Turkey Soup and/or Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
Two – Turkey Hash
Three – Potato Cakes, Potato Bread, Potato Leek Soup

Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal.  Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash.  Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.  If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet.  Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate.  Add a cup or so of stock and stir.  Add more if the mixture is too thick.  Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.

 

 

Cider Pressing

It’s a tradition in our family to pick a ton of apples in the fall and then take them to the press to be turned into cider at Sewall Organic Orchard.  Every since the girls were old enough to pick up apples from the tarp on the ground, we have joined our long-time family friends in this fall ritual.  They have more heirloom trees than we do, so most of the apples come from their property.  Over the years, as the girls have grown, we’ve perfected our apple picking technique to the point were we’ve got it down to a science.  This year, our crew was able to see the press and spend some time sipping cider.  And next summer on the Riggin, we will have organic cider every week!  There’s a video of the process on Instagram.

Apples ready for the press
Hauling in the apples. Many hands…
Loading the hopper. Ear protection is key.

Bob Sewell, the man himself.

The end result.