Kitchen Aid and The Daily Meal

Asparagus, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart ready to go in the oven

Asparagus, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart ready to go in the oven

I just finished a series of videos for Kitchen Aid and The Daily Meal. In them, I shop at the Greenmarket in NYC’s Union Square, give tips for choosing and storing seasonal. local produce and make an asparagus tart with my purchases. It was a fun day and a great excuse to check out the market and talk with some of the farmers.

You can watch the three videos here, on The Daily Meal site:

Shopping at the Greenmarket


Making the Asparagus Tart


Easy Cleanup

Asparagus, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

Serves 8

1 recipe Pate Brisée

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound onions, peeled, halved and sliced (about 5 cups)

1 teaspoon salt

½ pound small asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (about 1-1/2 cups)

2/3 cup goat cheese broken into small pieces

1 egg

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon chopped chives or tarragon

1)      Preheat oven to 400°F.

2)      On a lightly floured surface, roll out tart dough to 1/8th-inch thick circle and place inside a 9-inch tart or pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a fork, make small holes all over the surface of the dough. Cover the tart shell with a large circle of parchment paper and fill with baking beans.

3)      Place the tart shell in the preheated oven. After 15 minutes, or when the dough begins to look set, remove the beans and parchment and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the shell begins to turn golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool.

4)      Melt the butter in a 10” sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and salt, stir briefly, then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking 5 to 10 minutes, or until the asparagus are tender. Remove from the heat and cool. Add the goat cheese and mix briefly.

5)      Spread the onion-asparagus mixture over the cooled tart shell. In a bowl, combine the egg, cream and chives and pour over the top.

6)      Bake in the oven until the top begins to brown and the egg looks set, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Pate Brisée

Makes one 9-inch tart shell

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter

¼ cup ice water

  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using the tips of your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with a few “pea size” bits of butter left.
  2. Drizzle the water over the top of the flour (you may not need all of the water: start with half) and mix until the dough just begins to come together into a ball. If the mixture does not hold together, add another tablespoon of water.
  3. Mix the dough briefly with your hands until it forms a ball. The dough should look not look smooth, but have a slightly marbleized surface of butter and flour. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.


Using My Noodles

A new vegetable this week at my CSA: red noodle beans! Known also as yard long beans (although mine are more like foot-long beans), these purple-hued string beans have a firm crunch and slight nutty flavor. Some sources said they would lose their color when cooked, but mine stayed a dark, burgundy color through stir-frying and blanching.

Last week I stir-fried a batch with some garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds. This week, I decided to make a salad with some delicious cherry-style tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Inspired by a recipe I saw in The Gourmet Cookbook, I made a Mexican-style pesto using green pumpkin seeds, cilantro and some pickled garlic scapes I had in the refrigerator. No pickled garlic scapes lying around the house? A fresh clove of garlic will do the trick.

Being a chef, I plated the salads individually and coiled the noodle beans up like, well, noodles on the plate, put the tomatoes in the middle and drizzled the sauce around. The whole thing could just as easily be tossed together in a bowl and served family style.

Red Noodle Bean and Tomato Salad with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This salad would be great with any type of pole bean

Makes 4 to 6 servings

For the pesto:

1/3 cup green pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

2 tablespoons pickled garlic scapes (or 1 tablespoon minced garlic)

3 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Water as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

1 pound red noodle beans, trimmed and stringed (or 1 pound of string or wax beans)

1 cup small tomatoes (cherry, sungold, etc) or, 1-2 heirloom or other ripe tomatoes

1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

Chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired

  1. Toast the pumpkin seeds: Place the pumpkin seeds in a small, dry sauté pan over medium heat. Stir the seeds constantly for 3-5 minutes until they begin to brown and puff. Remove from the heat.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lime juice, garlic scapes and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Thin with water if the pesto is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Fill a large saucepot with cold water and bring to a boil. Add salt. Blanch the red noodle beans for 2-3 minutes. They should still be crisp. Drain and immediately place the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the beans, dry and place in a bowl.
  4. Cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Add to the cooled beans.
  5. Toast the cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes following the pumpkin seed method. Sprinkle the seeds over the salad.
  6. Divide the salad between 4-6 plates and drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with the chopped cilantro, if desired.


Beet Salad


At this point in the summer, I find my CSA overrun with beets and carrots. While I love the depth of flavor and sweetness that comes from roasting both these vegetables, it still feels too hot to have the oven on for the hour or more they would take to cook.

This week I made a fresh, slaw-like salad using both vegetables. I was inspired by the flavors in the Russian Carrot Salad, called Morkovcha or Korean Carrot Salad that features fresh carrots, onions, raw garlic, coriander and cayenne. The traditional recipes I’ve seen usually add vinegar and sugar, but my farmer’s market carrots and beets have been so sweet, I didn’t think mine needed it. Next time, I may add a splash of local honey, if I find the salad needs it. Also, I like to use whole coriander seeds that I crush by hand. This, along with toasting them, gives them a fuller flavor and adds another layer of texture to the salad.

I know some people feel doomed to purple-stained hands when preparing raw beets. A trick I learned many years ago is to first run your hands under hot water, dry, then lightly rub them with oil (I like olive). Finish by running your hands under cold water. Your pores absorb the oil and prevent your hands from getting stained. After working with the beets, any purple on your hands will wash away. No gloves necessary!


Beet and Carrot Salad

Makes about 4-6 servings

1 large beet (about ½ pound), peeled and grated

2 medium carrots (about ½ pound), peeled and grated

1 teaspoon coriander seed

¼ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

splash of honey, if desired

chopped parsley, if desired

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine the grated beet and carrot in a small bowl. Toss gently and set aside.

2. Using a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife, crush the coriander seeds into small pieces. 

3. In a small saucepot or saute pan, gently warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the crushed coriander seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds are fragrant and begin to crackle, about 1 minute. Add the cayenne pepper and onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes until the onions are limp and translucent. Set aside to cool briefly.

4. Add the minced garlic and lemon juice to the beet and carrot mixture. Pour the oil mixture over the salad. Season with salt and pepper, then toss gently to mix. Add the parsley and taste. Add the honey, if desired. Store in refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Dance of the Sugar Plums

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Last week I discovered fresh Sugar Plums at my farmer’s market. Not to be confused with the candy kind associated with Christmas or the fairy kind from the Nutcracker, the fresh kind is a small plum that resembles a giant grape. The ones I had lived up to the name: honey-sweet with a tender skin, they were some of the best plums I’ve had this summer.

After eating about half the container, I decided to make a clafoutis with the rest.  A clafoutis (kla-PHOO-tee) is an egg-y, custard-y cake traditionally made with cherries from France. Originally from the Limousin region, I was excited to see them for sale in the market in Lyon last month on my vacation. The purists leave the pits in the cherries, which gives the dessert a deeper, slight almond-like flavor.

While I’m all for tradition, I’m also a big fan of my teeth and opted to pit the plums. To create the flavor normally supplied by the pits, I used some almond flour in the batter. If you can’t find almond flour, you can create your own: grind blanched almonds in a food processor, blender or spice grinder. Make sure you pulse the machine to get an even grind and add 1-2 tablespoons of the sugar from the recipe to the nuts before grinding. This will ensure the nuts don’t turn to butter.

Also, it’s important to let the batter rest in the refrigerator at least half an hour before baking. Like pancakes, crepes, or any other batter this will give the clafouti better, more tender texture.

Sugar Plum Clafouti

Butter, as needed, for greasing the pan

Sugar, as needed, for sprinkling in the pan

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream (or milk)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup almond flour (or 3 ounces blanched almonds ground in food processor)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ pound sugar plums, pitted and quartered

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

photo (4)

  1. Butter a 8 or 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with sugar. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, sugar, flour, almond flour and vanilla extract in a food processor or blender. Pulse briefly until the batter is blended. Refrigerate the batter for at least ½ hour.
  2. Scatter the plums in the baking dish and pour the batter over the top. Bake the clafouti in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the batter is set and the top is golden brown and puffed slightly.
  3. Cool slightly. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.


Asparabundance Part Two

This week's picks from the farmer's market.

This week’s picks from the farmer’s market.

Hooray! My first CSA pick up for the year! My local farmers market is open year round, but now that the weather is warm it’s back in full swing. Sugar snaps, beets, radishes, lettuces, strawberries, all available this week.

For me, these bruschetta are the perfect late Spring snack.

For me, these bruschetta are the perfect late Spring snack. Sometimes instead of shaved parmesan I like to top them with thin slices of radishes.

There’s still lots of asapragus around and this week I used them to make bruschetta with asparagus and ricotta cheese. I’ve served them before at private parties, but this week they were just for me. I always like to add a little olive oil to the cheese before spreading it on the toasted bread, but this time I used some of the oil from my jar of Lemon Confit. The additional lemon flavor and slight hint of garlic worked great with the asparagus.

Asparagus Bruschetta with Ricotta and Shaved Parmesan

Makes about 20 pieces

 5-6 slices sourdough or rustic bread

Extra virgin olive oil, as needed for brushing the bread and cooking asparagus

1 bunch asparagus

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons oil from Lemon Confit,

or 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

salt and pepper, to taste

¼ pound Parmesan cheese

  1. Cut each slice of bread into 4-5 pieces. Trim crusts, if desired. Brush each piece with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay the bread in one layer on a sheet tray. Toast the bread in a broiler or a 450F oven until crisp and brown around the edges.
  2. Trim and clean asparagus (see Asparabundance). Cut the tips off into 2-inch pieces and cut the remaining stalks into 1/4-inch slices. Warm the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the cut asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook the asparagus for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until the asparagus is tender but still crisp. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your asparagus. Remove from the heat.
  3. Mix the ricotta with lemon oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread a small amount of the ricotta on each piece of toasted bread. Spoon the cooked asparagus on to the ricotta.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler, “shave” the parmesan into thin, large strips. Top each bruschetta with some of the shaved parmesan and serve.

Ramping Up

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Ramps are here! I bought my first ramps of the season at the farmer’s market this morning. These pungent wild leeks are only available in the market for a few weeks, so every year I pickle a batch to help extend the harvest. Easy to make, the pickled ramps will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months– but they rarely last that long in my house.

Pickled Ramps:

2 bunches of ramps (about 15-20), trimmed and cleaned

1 cup water

1 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the ramps in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, or until they just become tender. Immediately place the ramps in ice water to cool.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a glass jar or plastic container. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the ramps to the liquid. Cover and     refrigerate for 1 week before using.