Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Fennel and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet

prosciutto chevre fennel red bell pepper tartlet, savory tart recipe, cooking, recipe, baking, maine windjammer

“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

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime

The other day someone asked me, “What do I do to cover up the smell of fish?  I like it, but sometimes it just tastes and smells too strong.”

Pause.  Beat.  “Ahhh, okay, how ‘bout let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish first.”  Because it shouldn’t smell fishy at all.  The adjectives and phrases that should be coming to mind are something in the vicinity of briny, salty, like the sea, like an ocean breeze that travels across the water picking up moisture and the scent of it’s inhabitants.  NOT, whew!, dang, this stinks!, but maybe I’ll eat it any way.

This is as true for the taste of fish as well as the smell.  It should feel silky on your tongue and almost melt in your mouth.   It should suggest of the sea, not hit you over the head with a low-tide mouthful.

To buy fish well, you must ask to smell it before you buy it.  (See the above for what it should smell like.)  You must also look at it.  You want pieces that are full, firm, and shiny but not watery.  They shouldn’t be dry on the surface or be in anyway falling apart.  If you are buying whole fish, look at the eyes.  They should be clear, not opaque.  Don’t be afraid to offend the fish monger, the good ones understand.  Even the smell of the store is a hint.  It should be and smell clean and yes, with a hint of fish, because after all that’s what they are selling, but the scent of ocean is what you should come to mind when you walk in the door.

Be brave and ask questions.  Develop a relationship with your local fish monger.  Who knows, they might even grant you a fish story or two.

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime
2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces spinach; about 8 cups lightly packed
zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; about 1 lime
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
pinch of salt, if needed
wedges of lime for garnish
lime zest for garnish

In a deep dish platter, marinate the salmon with the vinegar, tamari, and pepper for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Reserve the marinade.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the salmon, top side down, cover with a lid, and pan-sear for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and sear for another 2 minutes or until the salmon is still slightly darker pink in the center. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and return the pan to the heat. Add the green beans, garlic, ginger, and reserved marinade and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the beans are bright green and hot all the way through.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, zest, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and hot beans. Taste for salt. Transfer the greens mixture to individual plates or to a platter and serve the salmon on top. Garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.

Serves 4 to 6

 

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

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

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Every week over the course of the summer, a new brown paper bag of mushrooms arrive from Oyster Creek Mushrooms.  It’s always a surprise and it’s always delicious.  Almost any mushroom will do in this recipe, and sometimes, in the winter, when our CSA is inactive, I use button mushroom which are also wonderful in this dish.

This happens to be one of E’s favorites and is in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Blue Book.

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers from a whole roasted chicken. If you don’t have cooked chicken handy, you can use uncooked, boneless chicken – 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, breasts, or thighs, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Just add the chicken at the same time as the mushrooms instead of at the end of the recipe and increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.

1 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced onions; about 2 small to medium onions
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced; about 4 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked chicken, pulled into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; 1/2 cup lightly packed

Following the instructions on the package, bring water for the fettuccine to a boil. While the water is heating, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, add the onions. Sauté the onions for 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium-low when the pan begins to brown slightly. When the onions are tender and golden brown, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the wine, return the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Begin cooking the pasta following the package instructions. Add the heavy cream to the onion/mushroom pan and bring to a boil again. Add the chicken and continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is heated through; serve over the pasta with Parmesan as a garnish.

Serves 4 to 6 generously

Annie
P.S. Jean, if you are cooking for only 2 people, this recipe will freeze well.  Just saying.  🙂

Super Bowl XLIII – What’s on your menu?

Super Bowl Sunday has practically become a national holiday – only better.  It is remarkably free of all the stress of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and one where we hang with family and friends and eat low-key, but really good food.  It’s all about good snacks as far as I’m concerned.  Beer and sodas are the beverages of the day and there’s no setting of an elaborate table required.  Even if you aren’t a football fan, it’s easy to get roped into the fun of it.  While I certainly would not qualify as a fan at this stage, I did grow up in a football household, so I understand the rules of the game and can yell at the referees and players with the best of them.  The beauty of Super Bowl Sunday is that one doesn’t even need to know what’s going on with the game or the teams to enjoy a day with friends; you just need the snacks, thank you very much. 

This is evidenced by the facts of the following story, one that will seem like sacrilege to some.  Some friends and I were talking about getting together for the event and I had to ask her who was playing – and then I had to ask whom the Cardinals were.  But I know the Steelers – at least I’m half informed…she asked me to do a little research before the game so I didn’t look like such a ditz to the rest of her friends.

Should you not be into football, grunting, testosterone, competition, this tapas menu will all make for great weeknight fare.  They ran on Wednesday in the Portland Press Herald Column.

Annie
Looking forward to spending time with friends this weekend

© 2009 Anne Mahle