Truffled Scrambled Eggs with Grits and Arugula

Farm fresh organic eggs from our CSA delivery, Tomato Mountain, WI, and whole grain stone milled non-GMO yellow dent corn grits from Severson Farms, IL are a perfect match for indulging in the aromas of a black truffle for a leisurely breakfast. 

 The perfectly moist texture of the scrambled eggs is achieved by continuously whisking the eggs over very low heat.   
Ingredients:

For two servings

  • 4 farm fresh organic eggs
  • 1 small black truffle
  • 1/2 cup organic non-GMO yellow corn grits
  • Organic arugula
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground pepper

Equipment: egg topper, truffle mandolin

 To cut a clean opening to top off the egg, the best tool is a spring egg topper. 
Sit the egg pointy side up in an egg holder.  Place the egg topper over the egg and pull the spring top, letting it snap back firmly.   The egg will have a clean cut all the way around. 

 If the sides do not come apart easily, you can insert the tip of a knife to gently separate both ends. 
   Be sure to open the egg over a bowl as the raw contents will pour out into the bowl. 
Continue the same procedure for all the eggs.  
Rinse the shells thoroughly and let dry on a towel.    Meanwhile, using the truffle mandolin, shave part of the black truffle onto the eggs. Grind some salt and pepper as well. 
  Whisk thoroughly until slightly foamy and set aside to let the truffle infuse its aromas into the egg mixture. Place corn and 1 1/2 cups of cold water into a saucepan. Add a dash of salt, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer about 15-20 mixing occasionally. Contrary to package instructions, I typically obtain best results, without lumps, by mixing initially with cold water rather than hot. 

 
Heat a bit of olive oil in a copper pan, pour the egg mixture and start whisking immediately.   Continuously whisk the eggs until almost settled. They should be slightly runny, as they’ll finish cooking and remain soft once served. 
 Place the egg mixture back into each egg shell. Top with extra truffle shavings and serve at once with the grits and a bit of arugula drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Enjoy!

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Piperade

One summer, our parents took us to Les Landes for a month, in the southwestern part of France, by the Atlantic Ocean. It was a summer of smelling the tall and dense pine forests, admiring the grounds covered with ferns, climbing the huge dunes of fine white sand and playing with the forceful rolling waves, most famous for surfing. All unfamiliar topography and vegetation compared to our Provençal surroundings. Our eyes were wide-open with curiosity and our taste buds were delighting in exciting new dishes.  In the evening we would wander by the colorful and fragrant freshly picked peppers and tomatoes at the outdoor markets and prepare the local specialty of Piperade. It was such a delicious combination of flavors as the vegetables were in their prime, we wanted to savor it every night!

 Yesterday morning, as I discovered what our weekly CSA delivery held from Tomato Mountain, these memories instantly permeated at the sight of onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes. I couldn’t wait to recreate those scents and tastes reminiscent of a joyful childhood discovery. 

  The variety of vegetables grown in the Midwest is different from my original introduction to Piperade in Les Landes, nevertheless just as delectable. So feel free to adjust ingredients based on what’s available from your local market.

Ingredients:

  • 3 yellow Aura peppers 
  • 2 Carmen sweet peppers 
  • 5 Capperino mildly hot peppers 
  • 5 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 extra large white onion (about 500 g/ 1 lb)
  • 1 extra large garlic clove
  • 5 Tbps extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh thyme and bay leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  Wash the yellow Aura peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve. 
  Wash the Carmen sweet peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve.   Wash the Capperino peppers, cut in half, remove the core, seeds and white flesh, and thinly slice each half. Reserve. 
  Wash the herbs and garlic clove without peeling it.   Peel the large white onion and cut in half. Thinly slice each half by hold down the root end. Discard the roots. 
  Heat the olive oil in a cast iron French oven. Add the onions and reduce the heat.   Place the herbs and garlic on top. 
  Arrange the sliced peppers as the top layer and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for about 10-15 minutes.   Meanwhile wash and cut the tomatoes in quarters. Remove the hard green part attached to the stem and discard. Slice each quarter into smaller pieces. 
  After the onion and peppers have cooked for about 15 minutes, add the tomatoes as the last layer. Seasson with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Cook over low heat for another 20-25 minutes.   Then remove the lid, and the vegetables will have shrunk. 
  Take the herbs and garlic out with a fork. Discard the herbs. You may keep the garlic for spreading on bread or crackers with a little butter as it will have become creamy inside.   Mix the vegetables with a wooden spoon to combine the flavors. 
  Serve hot or cold, either immediately or let sit to further infuse the flavors. Delicious on its own or with some eggs scrambled with red pepper flakes. 

Enjoy!

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!

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!

Brandade de Morue (Salt Cod Purée)

This specialty of Nimes was a common lunch item when we were growing up near Avignon. My mother would prepare it the night before, place it in the oven in the morning prior to leaving for school/work, and program the oven so that it would be ready to be served when we got back home for lunch. Back then every business closed religiously for lunch, and schools were on the same schedule. My parents picked us up from school at noon, we drove home to share lunch, my brothers and I would breathe the fresh air and play in the garden while my parent enjoyed their after lunch expresso, then they would drive us back in time to start at 2pm for the afternoon. Our school days typically ended at 4:30-5pm when we would come back home for ‘le gouter’.
As children, we LOVED coming home to this dish, even though it might contain a bit of garlic for the unaccustomed palate, this was the diet we grew up on: garlic and olive oil.
20131027-142830.jpg This dish can be served either as an appetizer, along with some grilled sliced baguette, or as an entrée, accompanied by other seasonal vegetables. Here I simply cut up some crudités to be used more as a ‘dip’, however, if you want a more authentic version and original flavors, I suggest you served this dish with toasted baguette the first time you make it.
20131027-142916.jpgIngredients for 4 servings:
1 lb salt cod, skinless and boned
1 lb potatoes
1 1/4 cups almond milk
3/4 cup olive oil
8 garlic cloves
a few springs of fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oz parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F
Rinse and soak salt cod a full 24 hours before starting the preparation of this recipe, changing the water at least 4 times.
20131027-142955.jpgAfter soaking the salt cod (see instructions above), drain and rinse.
20131027-143051.jpgPeel, wash and cut the potatoes in large chunks.
20131027-143232.jpgPlunge the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, return to a boil and keep cooking about 10-15 minutes at a rolling boil until the potatoes are tender. Drain, set aside.
20131027-143400.jpgPeel and cut the cloves of garlic in half. Remove the center part. Set aside.
20131027-143437.jpgZest and juice the lemon.  Set aside.

20131027-143519.jpgChop parsley finely.  Set aside.

20131027-143802.jpgPlace the salt cod in a large pot of cold water, bring to a simmer (do not boil), and drain and reserve.

20131027-143844.jpgHeat the almond milk and garlic in a separate pot.

20131027-143926.jpgAdd the salt cod, bring to a simmer, and continue simmering for about 10 minutes.

20131027-144008.jpgPlace the cod, garlic, half the almond milk, potatoes, lemon juice, lemon zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process till smooth, periodically adding more liquid from the almond milk.

20131027-144150.jpgHeat the olive oil and pour in the mixture through the feeder.  Keep processing until completely blended.

20131027-144230.jpgWhen all the ingredients are fully blended, (there should be no lumps from the potatoes), transfer to a large bowl.

20131027-144316.jpgAdd the parsley and black pepper and mix well with a wooden spoon.

20131027-144412.jpgBrush oil on the bottom and sides of 4 individual ramequins or cocottes (showing more on this photo because I doubled the recipe).

20131027-144521.jpgFill the cocottes almost to the top.  This preparation does not rise, so be sure to fill them as much as possible.

The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point.  If this is so, cover the cocottes and refrigerate, up to one day, until ready to bake.

20131027-144710.jpgFreshly grate the parmesan finely.

20131027-144952.jpgSpread evenly over the top of each cocotte.

20131027-145201.jpgPlace in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, till the tops are golden.

If you had refrigerated the cocotte, you’ll need to bake them a bit longer, maybe another 10 minutes until they turn golden.

20131027-145308.jpg Enjoy!

Anchoïade

This traditional summery sauce is served with crudités, which are basically raw vegetables. Usually some radishes, fennel, Belgium endive, or any other crisp vegetable you enjoy eating raw. It can be served as an appetizer, on a large platter shared between guests, or as a light lunch on individual plates.

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Infused with garlic and anchovies as the main ingredients, anchoïade is a rather strong flavored sauce. Only a small amount suffices to fully savor its distinct taste.

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Ingredients:
A bunch red radishes
1 fennel bulb
2 carrots
1 cauliflower
2 Belgium endives
4 oz anchovies preserved in oil
1/2 cup first cold press extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic (can use only 2 cloves if too strong)

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Clean radishes by trimming the greens and bathing them in a bowl of water, changing it a few times until the water is clear.

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Trim the ends and cut the radishes in halves or quarters. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the ends of the endives to unfold the leaves. Keep trimming the ends that hold the leaves together to easily separate them as you get closer to the center. Set aside.

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Peel and cut carrots in long sticks. Set aside.

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Cut the bottom leaves of the cauliflower and core the center.

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Cut off each floret starting from the bottom, and separate from the main stem going around.

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Cut each floret into smaller pieces. Set aside.

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Wash and cut the fennel bulb in half. Then slice thinly. Set aside.

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Start arranging vegetables on plate.

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Gather the anchoïade ingredients. Again, you may use less garlic and more olive oil depending on your personal preference.

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Peel and cut garlic in half. Place the cloves in the food processor fitted with a steel blade and process till finely chopped.

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Add the anchovies to the bowl containing the chopped garlic and process till smooth.

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Scrape down the garlic/anchovy mixture and place the cover back on top.

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Feed the olive oil through the neck of the cover while processing to fully incorporate. Taste to decide if you would like more olive oil.

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Pour the anchoïade in individual serving dishes.

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Finish arranging vegetables on plates. Place the anchoïade in the center.

20130805-095349.jpg if you are serving as a lunch, you might add a couple hard boiled eggs.
Enjoy!