Blood Orange Almond Tart

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I came across this recipe recently when perusing the cooking section of the bookstore (my favorite section), and flipping through Nick Malgieri’s new book, Pastry. I stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing the recipe, as it was exactly what I was craving for a bright, seasonal dessert in the middle of winter. The thing about citrus that I love so much is its availability in the middle of winter, when we all need a little brightness on our dessert plate. This dessert comes together nicely in three parts: first the pastry, then the filling, then the segments of blood orange that have been lightly poached. Poaching the segments of blood orange helps control the liquid that is exuded from them and that seeps into the pastry. The recipe below is largely inspired by the one I found in Nick Malgieri’s book; I’ve taken his recipe for the filling and the technique for the poached blood oranges. The pastry dough recipe is my old trusty recipe, from my dad, and can be found in an old tattered Moulinex recipe manual.

Filling
6 large blood oranges, about 1 1/2 pounds, divided use
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons sugar, divided use
6 ounces almond paste
1 large egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pastry (Pâte Sablée)
250g flour
125g butter (room temperature), cubed
125g sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Finishing
¾ cup apricot preserves
¼ cut sliced almonds, slightly toasted

Directions
For the pâte sablée
1. Put all ingredients except the butter in the food processor, and mix for 30 seconds to mix all the ingredients and obtain a sandy consistency.
2. With the processor on, slowly add the cubes of butter. Continue with the food processor about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a crumbly ball. Be careful not to overmix. If the dough does not form a ball, slowly add ice water in increments of 1 tablespoon.
3. Take the dough out of the food processor and gather the dough into a round, thick (about 1-2 inch thick) disk. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. Wrap the disk of dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 min.
4. When ready to roll out the dough, butter your tart pan and preheat the oven to 375.
5. Roll out the dough into a disk about 1/8th of an inch, and put in the tart shell. With a fork, prick the dough in several places, cover with parchment paper, and fill with dried beans to prevent rising. Bake for 15 minutes (just long enough pre-cook before a second round in the oven with the filling, which will be described below).

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Preparing the Oranges:
1. Before peeling the oranges, grate 2 teaspoons worth from the blood oranges. Set aside for the filling.
2. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin and white pith completely, resulting in a peeled globe. Then, slice the orange in half, cutting through all the segments (if you orient your orange with the stem on top, you want to cut horizontally).
3. Take each half and lay flat on work surface. Cut the orange halves into ¼ inch thick slices and set aside.
4. In a saucepan large enough to hold the orange slices in a shallow layer, bring 4 tblsp of sugar and the water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add the orange slices to the syrup. The slices can be left in the syrup several days, until 30 minutes before you need to assemble the tart. Thirty minutes before assembling, remove the orange slices and place on a pan lined with paper towels. Reserve the syrup.

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Almond Filling
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the almond paste and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar on low speed with the paddle attachment. Beat until it is reduced to fine crumbs.
2. Add the whole egg, and beat until the consistency of the mixture is smooth. This should take a minute or two.
3. Beat in the butter until smooth.
4. Add the reserved orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla.
5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder.

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Assembling the Tart
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Spread the filling into the prepared crust and smooth the top.
3. Remove the orange slices from the paper towel, and arrange over the almond filling in overlapping concentric rows. Make sure to pack the slices tightly—you want to avoid having uncovered filling. Gently press the slices into the filing.
4. Arrange the orange slices, overlapping, in concentric rows over the almond filling.
5. Bake the tart until the crust is baked through and golden about 30 minutes (you’ll also want to check that the filling is set).
6. While the tart is baking, bring the syrup to a boil and allow it to reduce until slightly thickened, 4 or 5 minutes; don’t reduce it too much, or it will solidify. Let cool.
7. To create the apricot glaze, combine 1/4 cup of the reduced syrup with the apricot preserves and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Cool the baked tart on a rack and unmold it.
9. Lightly brush the oranges with the apricot glaze, reheating it first if necessary.
10. Immediately before serving; sprinkle the edge of the tart with the sliced almonds.

Herb Flecked Pasta

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This is just regular pasta with herbs chopped up finely and mixed into the dough, but the herbs add an extra something special. The dough recipe is Marcella Hazan’s. Finely chopped sage, thyme, and oregano give a nice flavor that compliment the sauce from the coq au vin. I’ve made the dough with my stand mixer as well as with a food processor, and I was happier with the results using the food processor; I found that the stand mixer made the dough a bit chewy, but if you have a recipe using the stand mixer you like, just add finely chopped herbs to your recipe in the stand mixer. Because the food processor would blend the herbs to a pulp, you have to add them after the flour has been incorporated into the eggs, and take it from hand by there.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, thyme, oregano, tarragon.

1. Using the food processor, mix together the flour and eggs, just until fully incorporated, but before the dough turns into a ball. Dump out the sticky dough onto a floured surface, and add in the chopped herbs. Knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. Make sure to knead the dough until the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the ball of dough.
2. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This resting time as allows for the gluten to develop.
3. When you are ready to roll out the dough, do so, per the instructions on your pasta maker. When the pasta is rolled out, make sure to dust with semolina to prevent sticking. Freeze the dough until you’re ready to cook, if not cooking immediately. Freezing the dough will help prevent the dough from sticking and clumping.

Coq Au Vin

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A coq au vin is the perfect dish for a lazy, snowy weekend. Not only does it taste great and stick to your ribs, but it’s even better when made ahead of time (which means it’s perfect for leftovers). So it’s also perfect for those lazy weekends where you might feel like welcoming friends to your table but don’t want to slave away by the stove, or weekends where you want to cook in advance for the rest of the week. Coq Au vin is not meant to be a pretentious dish; it is a homey and rustic dish that developed out of farmers’ need to use the abundance of wine and chickens and roosters. While there are as many recipes out there as there are French grandmothers, there are a few things to keep in mind for authenticity. Firstly, the only liquid in coq au vin is red wine (no tomatoes or tomato paste! No chicken stock! No white wine!). While variations are tasty, they’re not coq au vin. While coq au vin quite literally translates to “rooster in wine,” red wine is implied. (A similar dish is made with white wine, called coq au vin blanc/jaune, and is truly delicious, especially with morels.) Secondly, many coq au vin recipes call for cognac that one can either flamber in the dutch oven after browning the meat, or add at the end and allow to cook off. Feel free to use this if you have some on hand. I didn’t and didn’t feel like buying a bottle for a one-time use. Adding cognac definitely adds a little something special, but is not a requirement for authenticity. All of that said, I believe it is sometimes more important for a dish to be tasty than authentic, so I encourage you to try whatever regional variation floats your boat. This recipe includes an ingredient that struck me as unconventional – dark chocolate – but since it’s in a book authored by purists, I feel it is justified.

Ingredients:
• 6 strips of bacon
• 8 oz frozen pearl onions
• ½ lb sliced mushrooms (cremini, button…)
• 2 shallots finely chopped
• 1-2 carrots, chopped into 1” pieces
• 1 whole chicken, cut into parts (3-4 lbs)
• 1 bottle of strong red wine (like a pinot noir)
• Herbes de provence
• 1 tablespoon of flour
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 squares of dark chocolate

1. In a bowl, marinate the chicken in the wine overnight. When ready to start cooking, remove the chicken from the wine and pat dry. Salt the chicken, and add a thin coating of the herbs to the chicken. Keep the wine and put aside for later.
2. In a dutch oven, crisp the bacon bits until all of the fat has been rendered and the meat is browned. Once the meat is crisped, remove the bacon and fat from the dutch oven and drain on a paper towel. Next, add the pearl onions to the dutch oven and sautee in the residual fat from the bacon. Remove and set aside once they have lightly browned.
3. Again in the residual fat, sautee the shallots, then the carrots. If there’s not enough fat to properly sautee, add some extra olive oil. Remove and put aside.
4. Using the same dutch oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil and butter and brown all of the pieces of chicken. Make sure not to crowd the pan and work in batches if necessary. Once browned, remove the chicken and set aside.
5. Add the flour to the pan and scrape and mix with all the drippings. Now add the chicken back into the pan, along with the bacon, carrots, and shallots (leave the pearl onions out). Add the wine to the pot and make sure not to cover the chicken entirely (the liquid should just barely cover the meat). If you don’t have enough wine you can add some water. At this point, add the remaining herbs (garlic, bay leaf,…) and the chocolate.
6. Bring the liquid to a boil, and lower the heat to barely a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the chicken and cook down the sauce to desired thickness. (The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Usually I cook the sauce down by half.) If the sauce is still not the desired thickness, you can take a tablespoon of butter and flour, mashed together in a separate bowl, and then added to the sauce. This will act as a thickening agent.
7. In a separate pan, cook up the mushrooms: mushrooms often contain a lot of water, and so I cook them first by just adding them to a hot pan with salt to cook out the moisture. Once the moisture is cooked out, then I actually saute them with oil and butter. Once cooked, add the mushrooms to the sauce, along with the pearl onions. Add parsley before serving.

 

 

Black Olive Rosemary

 

Groves of Olive Trees near Tel Aviv, Israel, 2009

 

Food brings back nostalgic thoughts for all of us, returning often to favorite recipes as a way to relive good times gone by.  When living in Jerusalem, a very beautiful friend made delicious bread for me one time. She made it look so easy, whipping everything together without the aid of a recipe and done only by memory. The smell of it baking will make you salivate, but just wait til you taste it…..      This was in 2009, and it is the only bread I make to this day, and never ever have I seen someone try it and stop at only one piece. It is easy to make, but plan ahead, because it can take a few hours to rise (something that has had me serving dinner to my guests late more than once). My recipe is written in an old notebook that has its fair share of ingredient smudges all over Einav’s Black Olive and Rosemary Bread. Still warm, dipped in  olive oil, sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt, and washed down with a glass of white wine is a good start to a nice meal with friends.

 

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The flavors are typical to the Mediterranean diet, pepper, garlic, rosemary and olive oil.  In an effort to share it the same way I received it, I have written it exactly as it was told to me that first night I tried it.  Enjoy. – JamesEinavBread

 

Einav’s Bread– Jerusalem, Israel, 2009

-1-2 teaspoons of yeast (warm water/bit of sugar)

-1 ½ cups of milk (maybe a little less), warm but don’t boil

-In a bowl, mix: – ¼ of a cup of olive oil

-2 tablespoons of sugar

– ½ or 1 tablespoon of salt

– black pepper

(add any spices you would like at this time, Zatar, thyme, etc.)

-Mix warm milk in to the bowl and stir

-Cut up one clove of garlic and add to bowl

-Let yeast mixture rise and once grown add to mixture

-Add 2 cups of flour

-Mix flour and yeast together little by little to get the right consistency

* This is when you add your olives and rosemary (or anything else like nuts, etc.)

-Mix dough in bowl with hands while adding more flour if necessary as you go

-Transfer to a large clean bowl and let sit for one hour (to rise)

-After 1 hour and risen, punch the dough and knead a bit

-Let rise 1 more hour

-Do this 3x

-Arrange on try, let sit one hour (this is the 3rd time)

-Put on toppings (extra rosemary, etc.)

-Preheat oven to 150-170 degrees and cook for 15 minutes

(lower heat= better baked)

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Pork loin braised in milk

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This dish, which seems to be trending lately, is very simple to make. Marcella Hazan’s is probably the most well-known version, but others are listed here (http://leitesculinaria.com/79364/recipes-roast-pork-in-milk.html) and here (http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2007/09/the_milkbraised.html).

I made my version the simplest way possible. Since this was the first time trying pork braised in milk, I wanted to limit the mistakes and keep it simple. While this dish is not very hard to make, it does require that a constant eye be kept on it.

Ingredients:
• 2 1/2 pound boneless roast pork loin
• 1 tsp Salt
• 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
• A few sage leaves
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 cups whole milk. Absolutely do not use reduced fat milk. Just do not.

Sage

 

1. I had a pretty clean piece of meat, fat-wise. If your piece has a lot of fat, I recommend trimming, but leaving just a little to give the meat good flavor. Also, I should have used butcher’s twine to tie mine up—if you have a loosy goosy piece that doesn’t hold together too well, make sure to use some twine. Sprinkle kosher salt on the roast.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed flameproof casserole, or a dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the butter and once it is melted and foams, add the meat and the sage. You will want to sear the meat on all sides until it is nicely browned. This took me about 15 minutes.
3. Lower the heat and add the milk and the garlic. The milk should come up to about ¾ of the roast, so add more milk if you don’t have enough. Make sure to add the milk very slowly. Gradually bring the milk to a simmer, and partially cover the pot. The milk will curdle and form brown nuggets; don’t panic, this is what you want as they taste nutty, sweet and delicious. Let cook until the internal temperature is 140F, about 1 hour. If the pork is ready but the sauce does not seem to have sufficiently reduced, take the pork out and cook down the sauce for a bit.
4. When the pork is ready, remove from the pot and let sit for about 10 minutes. The sauce remaining in the pot will look a little curdled (and maybe unappetizing?), but this is normal. It tastes delicious, and you definitely don’t want to get rid of it. People often refer to these as “little brown clusters”. If it is very fatty (which mine was not) you skim the sauce and remove the fat. At this point, you can also use an emulsion blender and blend the sauce if you really don’t like the curdled look.

While this dish isn’t much of a looker, it tasted great—the sauce was sweet and nutty and the meat was perfectly tender. I definitely plan on making this again, but maybe with a few changes. First of all, I accidentally used reduced –fat milk because I didn’t read the label properly of what was in my fridge. BIG MISTAKE. This made a huge difference, as my milk wasn’t caramelizing at all. Once I noticed, I removed the low-fat milk and replaced with whole milk. However, the meat was ready before the sauce, so I had to take the meat out and let the milk cook on its own for a little.

 

~ DLS

Beet and blood orange salad with mint and goat cheese

 

This winter hasn’t been easy, what with the Hollywood-esque polar vortex and  below-freezing temperatures. Weather like this makes me crave both comfort food and bright citrus, a juxtaposition  that worked well in the dishes Eric and I prepared on a recent Sunday afternoon. The beet and blood orange salad with mint and goat cheese was bright and refreshing, yet hearty for winter. Pork loin braised in pork milk and the panade of beet greens were the ultimate comfort foods for a snow day (and the best part are the leftovers, perfect for consecutive snow days, of which we have had many). And to finish the meal on a bright note, like light at the end of the tunnel of winter, a Meyer lemon steamed pudding provides a bright citrus sweet ending.

Salad complete

Inspired by Los Angeles Times recipe from A.O.C. chef-owner Suzanne Goin

  • 3 bunches small to medium beets
  • ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup neutral oil such as canola
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 large blood oranges
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon juice from blood orange
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of mint leaves, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 6 oz of plain goat cheese (keep in the fridge until ready)

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The LA Times article originally called for roasting the beets, but I preferred to boil them (I prefer the less intense flavor of boiled beets, and this is further justified by laziness). Also, I had some goat cheese on hand, and I thought this would go very nicely.

  1. Start by boiling a large pot of salted water for the beets. Once the water comes to a boil, add the beets and cook until fork-tender. For large beets, you can cut them longitudinally in half before adding to the water. When ready, let cool. Once cool, slice into very thin slices, approximately 1/16th of an inch (or as thin as you can get it).
  2. While the beets cook, prepare the blood oranges: after peeling them, use a serrated knife to trim the outer edge of the orange to remove as much of the pith as possible. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find the pith to have a slightly bitter taste, and I prefer to remove it. Then slice the orange into lateral rings, about 1/8th inch thick.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, mix together the blood orange juice and the lemon juice. Add the shallots and the salt and mix. Next add the two oils.
  4. To assemble, layer the beets and the oranges in a pretty pattern. Next, add the crumbled goat cheese to the dish, making sure to keep it well-chilled until ready and not over-mixing the salad. (Not keeping the cheese well-chilled and over-mixing will cause the goat cheese to dissolve into the vinaigrette and salad). Next, make sure your vinaigrette is well mixed and poor it over the salad, adding the black pepper and the mint leaves.

Note: I only had red beets on hand, but a mix of golden and red beets would make for an even prettier dish, when combined with the red blood oranges!

~DLS

Butternut Squash and Leeks Baked with Goat’s Cheese

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The last savory part of our meal, before the pear and cranberry crostata and after the crisp fall salad of celery root, apples and shaved fennel, we ate something a bit heartier: butternut squash and leeks baked with goat cheese. I love combining leeks with roasted butternut squash, whose rich flavor goes very well with the sharpness of the goat cheese.

This baked dish is a delicious and easy way of preparing some winter vegetables. It’s also good inside of a savory crostata, but I like the ease of preparing this dish without the crostata crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash
  • 3-4 leeks, with the top third chopped off
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 oz. Goat cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the butternut squash into 1” cubes. Try to make sure the pieces are equally sized so that they cook at the same rate. Put the butternut squash cubes in an oven-proof baking dish and toss with the olive oil. Salt well (1/2 tsp kosher salt) and mix in the garlic cloves. Put in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • While the squash is cooking, cut the leeks into ½” slices. Run the chopped leeks under water in a colander to remove all the dirt.
  • Melt the butter in a pan with the remaining olive oil and add the leeks with a pinch of salt. Cook the leeks on low heat until they are soft, but not browned. This should take about 10 -15 minutes. When cooked, take off the heat.
  • When the butternut squash is ready, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350.  Transfer the leeks from the stovetop to the same baking dish as the squash and mix well. Add the goat cheese and mix gently, and sprinkle with the black pepper. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and browned, about 25 minutes. When ready, serve warm.

Notes: The leek and butternut squash combination also works particularly well with blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Instead of goat cheese, try making this dish with any blue cheese that you fancy.

~Danielle

Broad Beans

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Broad beans will remain one of those vegetables that defy commercialization as their flavor deteriorates post-harvest unless quickly shelled and cooked as soon as possible. Store-bought beans are often too large and starchy. Along with asparagus and strawberries, broad beans have that springtime and early summer succulence.

In northern climates, broad beans cannot be sown in autumn, but instead in late winter under glass. Seedlings are planted out in early spring and the first crop usually appears in early to mid summer. Gardeners living in Mediterranean climates can grow them reliably for good harvests since winters are not cold enough to deter their steady growth. Once the plants flower and produce the first pod, their top growth can be pinched and are supposedly delicious  sauteed (I have never tried them). Pinching out this growth forces the plant to concentrate their energy into the beans.

Chocolate spot and aphids are two common ailments of broad beans. Chocolate spot appears as brown dots on all parts of the plant, but good fertilization and air circulation can prevent the disease from gaining a foothold. Aphids can be easily dispatched by strong jets of water or insecticidal soap.

Do not allow the beans to become too large since they become mealy. The ideal size of each bean should be no smaller than a thumbnail. A bit of sea salt and pepper goes a long way. The Australian Gourmet Traveller suggests serving them with lemon, garlic, extra olive oil, parsley, and Pecorino cheese.  Another way of serving is to harvest and finely dice herbs, such as chervil, dill, and mint, and add extra olive oil, white wine vinegar. Slivers of asparagus can be added as well.

Any shelled beans can be frozen and used when another time calls for those memories of spring especially during the short days of winter.

Broad Bean Flowers