Rhubarb and Asparagus Tart

This country style tart was inspired by seeing the display of freshly picked rhubarb and purple asparagus next to each other at the farmer’s stall of the Green City Market.  

 The combination of rhubarb and asparagus is enhanced by the refreshing and fragrant tastes of lemon, thyme and cardamom with a bit of honey to sweeten the tartness of the rhubarb.

The olive oil crust, gluten free, includes lemon zest to echoe the fresh balance of flavors of the filling.  

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 2 pinch sea salt
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon

For the filling:

  • 250 g/9 oz fresh rhubarb
  • 250 g/9 oz purple asparagus
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp gluten free flour
  • 5 g/ 1/4 oz thyme
  • 1 pinch salt

  Preheat oven 375F 

  Start by washing the asparagus and cut the tips at an angle.  If some of the tips are larger than others, cut them in half, lengthwise. Reserve.   Cut the remaining stalks of the asparagus in small pieces.   Wash the rhubarb and cut thick slices similar in size to the asparagus. There is no need to peel the rhubarb. Be sure to discard the green leafy parts as it is toxic.   Place rhubarb and asparagus in a bowl.   Remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Discard the stems. Reserve the leaves.   When making a gluten free crust, personally I like to use Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour. Here I’ll use it for the filling as well.   Add the thyme leaves, honey, salt, ground cardamom, GF flour and olive oil to the bowl.  Zest the organic lemon with a micro plane and add to the mixture.   Add the lemon juice and toss. Set aside for the flavors to infuse.   Prepare a well with the gluten free flour and add salt and lemon zest.   Then add the olive oil and hot water.   Using one hand, slowly incorporate the flour and liquid mixture.   The final crust will be crumbly.   Form it into a flattened ball.   Using s pastry rolling pin, start to roll out the dough, rolling back and forth to elongate the crust.   Using a pastry scraper, lift the crust from the surface and turn it 1/4 turn.   Continue to roll out the dough, turning it 1/4 turn as soon as it is elongated into an oval, until you have a round shape that is large enough to fit the tart dish Bottom and sides.   Line the tart dish with the crust. The nature of the gluten free crust is to break into pieces. Simply patch it back together as it is very forgiving.   Place the rhubarb-asparagus mixture on the crust.   Arange the asparagus tips on top. And place in the oven, lowering the temperature to 350F. Bake for 45 minutes.   When the tart is baked, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some fleur de sel. Wait a few minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!

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English Pea and Carrot Soup with Mint and Coriander

This silky smooth soup announces springtime and can be served hot or cold. Finished in an olive oil emulsion instead of cream, it gains a creamy texture while maintaining a lightness of taste and texture. The subtlety of its seasoning, carrot-coriander and English pea-mint, adds a complex yet delicate flavor.Preparing the two soups in separate batches and pouring them together just at serving time not only adds a colorful touch, it also preserves the integrity of the distinct flavors.Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 500g/1.2lbs organic carrots
  • 1 kg/2.4lbs fresh English peas in their pods (or about 500g/1.2lbs shelled)
  • 1 tsp coriander grains
  • 20g/0.7oz fresh mint (a few sprigs)
  • 12 Tbsp olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt for cooking
  • Fleur de sel

Start by grinding the coriander with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.  Wash the mint and remove the stems. Set the leaves aside.Shell the fresh English peas by pressing each pod between your fingers to release the peas.You should have about half the weight in peas and can discard the shells.Peel and slice the carrots thinly so they cook quickly and evenly preserving most nutrients.Bring two pots of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. One for  the carrots and one for the peas.Plunge the carrots in one of the pots. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and cook on medium for about 10-12 minutes.Meanwhile plunge the peas in the other pot of boiling water.When all the peas float up to the surface, about 5 minutes, they are cooked.Remove the peas from the pot with  a skimmer into a bowl, preserving the cooking liquids for adding to the soup. When the carrots are tender remove them from the pot with a skimmer in the same way as for the peas, reserving the cooking liquid. Place the peas in a tall beaker with 6 tbsp of olive oil and some of the pea cooking liquid. Process with an immersion blender, adding more liquid as needed, up to 2-2 1/4 cups of cooking liquid total.  Place back into the pot, after discarding the excess liquid, add the mint leaves and process until fully blended. You will obtain a somewhat grainy texture.Pour the pea soup in a chinois or fine mesh strainer.Over a bowl to recuperate a smooth textured soup. Press as much of the liquid as possible. You can reserve the pulp for another use (let me know if you’d like some suggestions).  Scrape the outer pulp into the soup.   Whisk until homogenous.  Adjust seasoning with some Fleur de sel. Set aside.Place the carrots in a tall beaker.   Process with an immersion blender adding 6 Tbps of olive oil and some of the cooking liquid from the carrots.   Continue processing until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl. Add the freshly ground coriander and adjust the consistency with more cooking liquid until it reaches the same texture as the pea soup. Again, about 2-2 1/4 cup of added liquid total.  Pour both soups into each serving bowl simultaneously.   This way both soups retain their separateness. Using a spoon, gently mix the two on the surface.  To make a design.  And finish with a touch of herbs, chives or mint. Enjoy!

Smoked Mackerel Tartine

Tartine is a French classic basically designating a slice of bread topped with something spread-maybe more commonly known as an ‘open-face sandwich’. Perfect for a brunch, a picnic or as appetizers cut up in bite-size pieces.

Historically sweet Tartines were a typical breakfast fare in France, topped with French butter and honey or homemade jam. They defined French children breakfasts for ages.

Nowadays savory Tartines have become increasingly popular: they are appetizing, simple, fun and ever changing depending on the ingredients at hand.

Here I am using a combination of flavors including the smokiness of the mackerel, the nutty taste of hazelnuts, sweetness of honey and the tart zing of passion fruit.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 4 slices of dense multigrain bread from your local bakery
  • 12 oz smoked mackerel
  • 7 oz soft goat cheese
  • 4 small golden beets
  • 1/2 passion fruit
  • 1/2 bunch of watercress
  • A handful raw hazelnuts
  • Micro greens 
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Drizzles of hazelnut oil
  • Fleur de sel

Start by mixing the honey and goat cheese until fully combined. Spread a thick layer of honey goat cheese on each slice of bread. Wash the watercress, remove the stems, and place the leaves on top of the goat cheese mixture. Press them down so they stick to the cheese layer. Drizzle a little hazelnut oil and sprinkle some fleur de sel. Peel and thinly slice the golden beets. Arrange a layer on top of the watercress and drizzle a little additional hazelnut oil and fleur de sel. Cut a small filet of smoked mackerel and remove the skin. Place on top of the beets. Arrange some micro greens on the surface. Chop some hazelnuts. Cut the passion fruit in half to reveal its golden flesh and seeds. Finish with a few pieces of hazelnuts and drops of passion fruit pulp/seeds. Enjoy!

Carrot Cappuccino

On a snowy winter day, carrots had arrived from the farm, the smells of T’s morning espresso still permeated the air in the kitchen, I had just made fresh almond milk the day before…all the perfect ingredients to make a carrot cappuccino I thought.

IMG_3050Ready to be enjoyed with some ribbon carrot chips as garnish and some cracked coriander seeds for a flavor twist.

IMG_2990Ingredients:
1 large bunch, about 1.2kg/2lbs10oz organic carrots
2 cups + 3 Tbsp homemade almond milk
4 Tbsp strong espresso
2 tsp coriander seeds
Coarse sea salt
Fleur de sel
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F

IMG_2993Peel the carrots. Continue peeling one of the carrots to create ribbons. Keep the center of the carrot to chop along with the bunch.

IMG_3001Place a little olive oil in a small bowl to coat the carrot ribbons. Place them on a Silpat on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

IMG_3002Meanwhile, chop the remaining carrots. If you prefer, you can grate them-they’ll cook even faster.

IMG_3004After 10 minutes, the carrot ribbons will have started to shrink. Flip them to the other side. Lower the heat to 300 and bake for another 15 minutes approximately.

IMG_3005Once the carrot ribbons are baked into chips, set them on a wire rack to cool.

IMG_3006Bring 4 cups of water with a generous pinch of coarse salt to a boil. Place the chopped carrots in the boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.

IMG_3016Drain the carrots over a bowl to save the cooking broth.

IMG_3023Place the carrots in the beaker of an immersion blender along with a few spoonfuls of cooking liquid.

IMG_3026Purée the carrots using an immersion blender. You might have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your beaker.

IMG_3033Place the puréed carrots back in the pot. Whisk in the almond milk and espresso. Heat gently to warm the mixture.

IMG_3015Crack the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle.

IMG_3034Mix 1 tsp of cracked coriander seeds into the carrot mixture and reserve the other tsp for serving.

IMG_3038Pour into cappuccino serving glasses or cups.

IMG_3042Gently warm the 3 Tbsp of almond milk remaining and froth using an electric frother.

IMG_3050-0Spoon the froth on top of the carrot mixture, garnish with some carrot chips, and sprinkle with cracked coriander and fleur de sel to taste. Enjoy!

Homemade almond milk

This is the purest way to enjoy nondairy milk. Raw almonds and water. That’s it. None of the other ingredients added to commercial almond milk. It also tastes the best. Truly like almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2812.jpgThe task might sound intimidating at first, but with the right tools, it is quite simple. I make a batch every two weeks and it takes about one hour. Very much worth it. Taste-wise and health-wise. Please, do try for yourself and let me know your thoughts.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2623.jpgIngredients:
500 g raw almonds (about 4 cups)
8 cups filtered water + for soaking

Special equipment:
Food processor fitted with a steel blade
Chinois and pestle (or fine sieve)
Cheese cloth

Plan the day before.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2627.jpgPlace the almonds in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2641.jpgThe almonds will plump and the water will become cloudy.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2643.jpgDrain the almonds.
Now there are two ways to proceed. You can peel the almonds to obtain a pure white milk, a very lengthy process, or simply not peel them and use them as is. I will show both ways.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2647.jpgPeeling the almonds is not complicated, just time consuming. If you have help in the kitchen, it can be a fun task to do together around the kitchen table/counter and enjoy sharing time this way. You can use a paring knife, or simply your fingertips. Whichever works best for you. You may want to add a little water in the unpeeled almond bowl to keep them moist, as they dehydrate quickly and are easier to peel when fully hydrated.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2654.jpgI’ve peeled half of my almonds to show you both ways. Same process, slightly different results.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2657.jpgPlace the almonds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Depending on the size of your bowl, you may want to do this in separate batches so the bowl doesn’t overflow when adding the water.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2664.jpgFirst, grind the almonds alone.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2671.jpgThen add about 1 cup of filtered water for 1 cup of almonds slowly through the feeder while processing.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2684.jpgYou will obtain a creamy milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2686.jpgSet out your chinois (or sieve) for straining the milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2692.jpgPour the milk through the chinois, over a tall container where the milk can drain.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2698.jpgMix the pulp around with the pestle until all the milk has been extracted.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2708.jpgScrape the sides of the chinois with a spatula.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2710.jpgPlace the pulp back in the food processor for a second round. Process by adding the same volume of water as the first time around.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2719.jpgPlace through the chinois again to extract the milk.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2729.jpgScrape the pulp from the sides of the chinois onto a baking sheet so you can dehydrate it to transform it into almond meal. Set aside.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2742.jpgDrape a cheesecloth over another container and pour the almond milk through it to remove the finer almond grains remaining.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2760.jpgPull up the cheesecloth to let the almond milk drip.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2764.jpgSqueeze the milk out of the pulp inside the cheesecloth.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2771.jpgOpen the cheesecloth to remove the fine pulp and combine it with the previous pulp onto the baking sheet. Set aside.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2780.jpgPour the milk into a bottle with a tight cap. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. Shake the bottle before using as the particles will separate while refrigerated.
Now for the unpeeled almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2786.jpgPlace the unpeeled almonds directly in the food processor, and proceed as for the peeled almonds.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2784.jpgGrind them.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2785.jpgAdd the water.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2789.jpgExtract the milk through a chinois.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2790.jpgWhen the pulp remains, place back in the food processor for a second round. Pour through a cheesecloth.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2796.jpgAnd finally put the remaining pulp onto a baking sheet.
To make the almond meal, I place the baking sheet in the oven on the proof setting for a few hours. Sift the almonds when dry enough. Place back on the baking sheet and back into the oven, on proof setting, for another few hours until completely dehydrated. If you have a dehydrator, that would work very well as well. Then store in your pantry and use in your baking or cooking recipes as you would store-bought almond meal.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/753/42979938/files/2014/12/img_2800.jpgHere is the difference between the two milks. Purely visual. Taste wise, no noticeable difference. Either way, I wish you to enjoy it in your coffee, hot chocolate or in your baking and cooking recipes.
Delicious for your taste buds and your body!

Pear and Celery Soup with Roquefort, walnuts and pomegranate

A light, colorful and delicately fragrant winter holiday soup with a well balanced combination of tart, sweet and savory flavors.

IMG_2591.JPG
The immersion blender makes this soup very smooth. By contrast, the walnuts and pomegranate seeds give it texture.

IMG_2561.JPGIngredients for the soup:
6 pears d’Anjou, ripe
1 celery bunch
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 cups water

Garnish: pomegranate, Roquefort, walnuts
Serves 4

IMG_2562.JPGPeel and chop the onion finely.

IMG_2563.JPGHeat the oil on medium high heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and reduce to low. Cover and simmer about 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

IMG_2565.JPG Wash each branch of the celery carefully and absorb excess water with a kitchen towel.

IMG_2566.JPGCut the branches of the celery lengthwise, then chop them into small pieces. Reserve the leaves for garnish.

IMG_2569.JPGAdd the celery to the pot with the onions. Raise the heat to medium low and cover, cooking another 12-15 minutes.

IMG_2572.JPGCut the pears in half, then quarters. Reserve two quarters for garnish. Peel the other quarters (5 1/2 pears total) and cut them into large slices.

IMG_2574.JPGAdd the pears to the pot with the celery and onion.

IMG_2576.JPGAdd two cups of water, season with a pinch of salt, bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Keep cooking covered about 8 minutes.

IMG_2578.JPGTurn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup.

IMG_2582.JPGThe soup should be completely smooth.

IMG_2587.JPGThinly slice the reserved pears.

IMG_2584.JPGRemove seeds from the pomegranate. Crumble some of the Roquefort.

IMG_2585.JPGServe the soup in bowls. Arrange some celery leaves, walnuts….

IMG_2588.JPG…Roquefort, pear slices and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
Serve at once and enjoy!

Honey Crisp Tarte Tatin

This autumn the honey crisp apples from Michigan have been particular delicious. With their distinctive refreshing crisp and juicy texture and the perfect balance of sweet and tart taste, they are one of our favorite treats of the season.

IMG_2357.JPGAfter enjoying biting many of them for breakfast and afternoon snack, I had to test them for a traditional French dessert: la tarte Tatin. They turned out to be a perfect match. Hoping you enjoy trying them in the recipe below.

IMG_2210.JPGIngredients:
1-1,3 Kg or 2-2.5 lbs organic honey crisp apples
100g or 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
60 g or 4 Tbsp unsalted European butter
1 sheet of Dufour puff pastry (found in the frozen section at Wholefoods)
Extra flour for dusting.

Preheat oven to 425F

IMG_2237.JPGStart by prepping the apples. Cut them in quarters, core them and peel them.

IMG_2240.JPGThen cut each quarter in half and set aside.

IMG_2212.JPGMeanwhile place the butter, cut in small pieces, in a heavy 10″ cast iron pan.

IMG_2215.JPGMelt the butter on medium heat.

IMG_2217.JPGAdd the sugar at once to the melted butter.

IMG_2219.JPGMix gently with a wooden spatula.

IMG_2235.JPGThe butter and sugar will start caramelizing. Lower the heat to medium-low.

IMG_2241.JPGContinue cooking until the caramel turns a nice hazelnut brown color.

IMG_2242.JPGCarefully place the apple slices, inner side up, on top of the caramel. Be sure to keep your fingertips well above the burning hot caramel.

IMG_2245.JPGContinue arranging the slices nicely until the bottom of the pan is completely covered.

IMG_2248.JPGThen fit the remaining slices on top, in between the bottom slices, inner side facing down.

IMG_2261.JPGKeep cooking about 20 minutes, until the apples soften gently and the caramel bubbles through the apples. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

IMG_2266.JPGRemove the frozen puff pastry from the refrigerator (I defrost it overnight in the refrigerator)

IMG_2267.JPGPlace it on a flour dusted surface.

IMG_2269.JPGUnfold gently and discard paper, while dusting with flour to prevent stickiness.

IMG_2272.JPGUsing light strokes, brush off the excess flour.

IMG_2273.JPGRoll out the dough into a larger rectangle.

IMG_2274.JPGPlace a 10″-plate in the center to use as a pattern and cut around.

IMG_2275.JPGUsing a knife, cut 1 to 2 cm around the plate.

IMG_2279.JPGRoll the dough onto the rolling pin. Use a pastry scraper if the dough sticks to the surface.

IMG_2282.JPGRoll it out over the apples onto the pan. If the pan is too hot, set it aside until it is cool enough to handle.

IMG_2284-0.JPGThe puff pastry will overhang over the sides of the pan.

IMG_2288.JPGTuck in the dough between the apples and the sides of the pan by lifting it with one hand on one side….

IMG_2290.JPG…and tucking it with the other hand.

IMG_2293.JPGContinue all the way around until the apples are completely covered. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_2303.JPGWhen the top is golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes.

IMG_2311.JPGPull a serving dish slightly larger than the 10″ pan.

IMG_2314.JPGPlace the pan on top of a folded kitchen towel so that both ends of the towel overextend on either side of the pan.

IMG_2315.JPGReverse the serving dish so it fits on top of the pan.

IMG_2317.JPGHold the towel around firmly with both hands.

IMG_2319.JPGWith a firm and rapid movement, flip the pan on top and the serving dish on bottom.

IMG_2326.JPGLift the pan away from the serving dish. Some of the apple pieces will have fallen out of place.

IMG_2338.JPGJust set them back where they belong. You can enjoy with ice cream, crème fraiche or whipped cream with a extra drizzle of salted caramel sauce (posted January 11 2014).