cherry tomato galette

September 13, 2015

tomato galette

It’s at this time of year that we truly experience abundance. Nature is throwing itself, full force, on the world by end of summer, exploding with fertility and growth and plenty. Visit a farmer and you’ll see the wearied look of so many tomatoes to pick, so many squash to harvest, so many beans dripping from the vine. It’s a blessed season and I try to take advantage of it by buying too many tomatoes, a full stock of squash, and as many beans as I can reasonably eat in the coming week. On the tomato front I’ve spent the day slow roasting tomatoes, making ribolitta with tomatoes, slicing fresh tomatoes on sandwiches, and prepping this cherry tomato galette for dinner tonight. Create a base of whatever tickles your fancy – pesto, olive tapenade, or herbed-ricotta if you’re a cheese eater. Smother it with fresh tomatoes. Wrap it like the present it is, from mother nature herself. Bake. And saveur the sweetness that is abundance.

1 package puff pastry

1 jar pesto

A large basket of cherry tomatoes

Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread pesto, tapenade, or whatever you’re using as a base, on the puff pastry up to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Smoother with sliced and/or quartered cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and pepper. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the tomatoes. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and tomatoes are sweetly singing.

upside down onion tart

October 18, 2014

upside down onion tart

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg which is a current favourite. He says it’s a “cupboard’s bare” kind of recipe, as if the onions had nothing to do but hang out in their sweat pants and stained t-shirt. Pish posh. I say this recipe holds out its hand to onions and asks if they want to get all dolled up and head out on the town. Put on a little balsamic, a spritz of thyme, puff a little pastry, step into the heat of the kitchen, and whoop it up a little. So what if it takes no time and works with what’s in the cupboard? No saying you still can’t have a little fancy and footloose.

upside down onion tart

About 200g of ready-made puff pastry

3-4 medium onions

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar

few sprigs of thyme

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pastry to a 3–4mm thickness and cut out a 9 inch circle on floured surface. Set aside.

Peel the onions and slice each one into 6 or 8 wedges, keeping them attached at the root end. Heat the oil in an oven-proof 9 inch skillet or cast-iron pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, arranging them roughly in a concentric pattern. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, salt and pepper and cook for about 15–20 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are fairly tender, and starting to caramelize around the edges.

Trickle the balsamic vinegar over the onions and cook for a couple of minutes more, so the vinegar reduces a little. Remove from the heat and make sure the onions are fairly evenly spread around the pan.

Lay the pastry disc over the onions and put the pan into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is fully puffed up and golden.

Invert the tart on to a plate, so the sticky caramelized onions are facing up, on top of the crispy pastry. Serve straight away.

fricassee chanterelles

I’ve decided that there should be a rule that if you find fresh chanterelles you have to just buy them and do something with them – soup, sautéed on top of risotto, whatever. The season is so short, the taste so subtle and sublime, the preparation so easy – why wouldn’t you? I found some in a local grocery store the other day and scooped up a big bag instantly. On a gorgeous late summer Saturday with a chill in the air, it seems only fitting to do something simple but warming and comforting. This fricassee on smashed potatoes was a perfect lunch. And since the chardonnay was open as a key ingredient, we poured ourselves a small glass to accompany what ended up being true comfort food.

4 small baking potatoes

3 tbsps olive oil

2 small onions, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup white wine

1 cup cream, soy or otherwise

1 big bag of fresh chanterelles, bottom of stems removed and mushrooms torn into pieces (this allows for uneven edges which soak up the sauce better)

handful of thyme sprigs, leaves removed

sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean the baking potatoes and poke each one a couple of times with a fork. Once the oven is heated, place potatoes in the oven and bake until done, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down and add the minced garlic. Sauté, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn, for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat up slightly and add white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer until the wine has reduced by about 1/2. Add the soy cream and mix thoroughly. Add torn chanterelles and thyme. Simmer until chanterelles are soft and have had time to meld with the other flavours, about 5 – 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place cooked potatoes in the bottom of a bowl or on a small plate. Smash with a fork and smoother with the fricassee. Serve with a side salad and a crisp glass of white.

creamed leeks

It’s spring and the farmers’ market is turning green with spinach, kale, chives, and all those fabulously welcome early greens. I bought a friend of mine River Cottage Veg for Christmas and she made this springy creamy leek and spinach dish for me one night. I pulled out the recipe this weekend thinking it was the perfect place for those spring greens to land. And it was. This is both fresh and hearty, with sweetness from the coconut milk and spiciness from the curry. On top of brown rice with a little nutty arugula and cashew garnish, you’ve got a meal that’s easy, filling, and healthful.

2 tbsps sunflower oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp good curry powder

4-5 medium leeks, trimmed of tough leafy ends, washed and sliced

bunch of spring greens, baby kale or baby spinach, washed

400 ml coconut milk

sea salt and pepper to taste

sprouts, arugula or kale

50 grams roasted cashews, roughly chopped or crushed

Heat sunflower oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add minced garlic and allow it to sweat but be sure not to let it burn. Add curry powder and sauté for a few minutes, again making sure it doesn’t burn. Add chopped leeks and sauté until they are cooked well and get quite tender, about 10 minutes. Add spring greens until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, sea salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for about 5 minutes to let the flavours meld.

Serve on top of brown rice. Garnish with arugula sprouts and crushed cashews.

 

strudel2

The oldest Strudel recipes – a Millirahmstrudel and a turnip strudel – are from 1696, in a handwritten cookbook at the Vienna City Library. The pastry descends from similar Near Eastern pastries, which are not puff pastries, but closely associated with them. Lots of people these days use puff pastry, and move beyond the traditional fillings, both of which I’ve done in this recipe. Now, you might be thinking that there is no way puff pastry can be vegan, and you would be justified in having those thoughts. I’ve made puff pastry and it involved a crazy amount of butter. But did you know that most frozen puff pastries you buy at the grocery store are vegan? And they don’t take a whole day to make? And they are pretty tasty provided you put the right stuff inside. This one is both savoury and sweet, good-looking, relatively easy to make, and fabulous as a main attraction for Sunday dinner, lunch with a green salad, or even as an appetizer cut in thin slivers.

studel2

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

2 tbsps dried cranberries, chopped

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and but into thin slices

3 tbsps Kozliks Sweet and Smokey Mustard (or Dijon)

sea salt and pepper

fleur de sel or crushed thyme

strudel

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until starting to get soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, pecans, and dried cranberries and continue to sauté until sugar caramelizes, another 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

Brush butternut squash slices with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Grill for 5 or 10 minutes on your BBQ until soft, or bake in the oven for a few minutes until brown on the edges, but be careful not to burn them. Set aside.

When ready, roll out puff pastry on a floured surface until you have a rectangle of 9″ x 12″. Spread mustard to cover the middle 1/3 of the pastry. Spoon onion mixture over the mustard. Place butternut squash slices on top of onion mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Cut 1″ wide horizontal strips on either side of the filling. Fold strips on each side alternatively over the filling to create a braid. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little fleur de del or some crushed dried thyme. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.

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We’re just back from Tulum where we consumed lots of beans, rice, guacamole, and other staples of the Mexican diet. For Sunday dinner I decided to try my hand at chiles rellenos with a traditional mole. The chiles rellenos probably need little explanation (other than that it simply means “stuffed chiles). The mole? Well, the story behind Mole Poblano is that “in the early 17th Century, a Dominican nun named Sor Andrea de la Asunción lived in a convent in Puebla de los Angeles, outside of Mexico City. The mother superior of her order asked her to create a special meal to honor and celebrate visiting dignitaries who would be arriving on a Sunday. Since this request came at the last moment, Sor Andrea had to make do with the ingredients that she already had in the convent kitchen. She enlisted the help of the native women who worked with her to invent something wonderful, using the tools at hand. These native women, descended from Aztecs, believed that chocolate was the perfect ingredient to add to a dish created for visiting noblemen, because in Aztec culture, only royal males were allowed to eat chocolate, so they added chocolate to the blend of chiles, herbs, seeds, and vegetables.” Seem a little far-fetched? Maybe, but I do believe that truth is often stranger than fiction so I’m happy to go with it. This is not a quick meal to prepare but the earthy scents and associations will fill the house and, while you cook, you can bask in the beautiful imaginings of white sand, warm winds, palm trees, and the sound of the surf.

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Sor Andrea de la Asunción’s Mole Poblano

1/2 cup sunflower oil

3 ounces chiles anchos, about 6 or 7, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles pasillas, about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles mulatos, about 6, stemmed and seeded

1/3 ounces dried chipotle chiles, about 4, stemmed and seeded

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tbsps raw almonds with skin

3 tbsps raw shelled peanuts

3 tbsps raisins

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup reserved chile seeds (from chiles above)

5 whole cloves, stemmed

1/4 tsp anise seeds

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 stick true or ceylon cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp Mexican oregano

1/2 pound roma tomatoes, about 2 , charred or roasted

1/3 pound tomatillos, about 2, husked, rinsed, charred/roasted

6 ounces Mexican style chocolate or bittersweet chocolate

5 cups veggie broth (plus 4 more cups to dilute later on)

1 tsp sea salt, or more to taste

1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted, to sprinkle at the end

In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup oil. Once hot, about 2 minutes later, add the chiles in 2 or 3 batches and sauté, stirring often, and being careful not to let them completely burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl as you move along.

In the same oil, add chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and release their aroma. Stir in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the sesame seeds, reserved chile seeds, stemmed cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, oregano. Stir frequently and let it all cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring often. Make room again, add the tomatoes and tomatillos. Let it all cook for a couple minutes.

Incorporate the already sauteed chiles and pour in the vegetable broth. Stir and once it comes to a simmer, add the chocolate pieces and the salt. Mix well, and let it simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let the mix rest for 1/2 hour, so the chiles can completely soften.

In batches, puree the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. (You can store this mole, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze it for up to a year.) When ready to eat, dilute a cup of mole with 1/2 cup vegetable broth in a saucepan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

chilepoblano

Chiles Rellenos

5 chiles poblanos

2 tbsps olive oil

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes

1 cup water

2 tbsps toasted pine nuts

1/4 currants

1 tbsp minced green onion

2 tbsps cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub chiles poblanos with the olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Roast the chiles turning them occasionally until the skins are blackened and charred. When the skin of the chiles is sufficiently charred and blistered, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Peel the skin from the cooled chile; be careful to not tear the chile while peeling it.

Make a small slice into the side of the chile (this is the tricky part as roasted chiles are very soft, and tear easily). Insert a small spoon into the chile and scrape the seeds and the white membrane out, try to not tear the chiles flesh any more than possible, keeping the stems intact. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the wild rice  in a fine-meshed strainer to remove any residue of the grains’ bitter coating. Cook according to package instructions until done and set aside.

Rinse and drain the basmati rice in a fine-meshed strainer. Warm the oil in a covered pan. Add the onions and salt and cook on low heat, stirring now and then, until the onions are transparent, about 8 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, water, and drained basmati rice, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 – 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before removing from the heat, stir in the cooked wild rice, pine nuts, currants, green onions, cilantro, and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees. When all your ingredients are ready, stuff the chiles rellenos with the rice mixture. Drizzle with the Mole Poblano and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Warm in the oven for just 5 minutes or so to bring up the heat. Serve immediately with a little pico de gallo and a cold cerveza on the side.

 

 

barley mushroom 3

Every January I post a mushroom recipe. Last year it was the fabulous and savoury mushroom tart. The year before that it was the creamy triple mushroom gemelli, not to be missed. The year before that, the comforting winter portobello stew. This year I’m featuring mushroom barley stew with stout – a recipe I’ve adapted from Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s vedge cookbook, named after their restaurant in Philadelphia. Not only is this stew thick and warming and richly flavoured with beer, mushroom stock, thyme and worcestershire sauce, but it’s inspired by chefs whose philosophy I love. Rich and Kate call vedge a vegetable restaurant, “not a vegetarian or vegan one, and only once you eat there do you truly understand that distinction. Rich’s dishes are jubilant celebrations of vegetables, not an attempt to accommodate a so-called dietary restriction.” This statement almost calls for a trip to Philly just to give Rich and Kate a high-five.

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained

2 cups cubed parsnips

1 cup cubed celeriac

a handful of the babiest of baby carrots (or cubed carrots if you can’t find baby carrots)

1 pound mushrooms, hedgehog if you can find them, chopped

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tsps sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsps olive oil

6 cups mushroom stock

1/2 cup stout or dark beer

2 tsps chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce

2 tsps chopped fresh parsley

Heat 3 cups water in a large saucepan over high heat. When it comes to a boil, add the barley, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until all of the liquid if absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the parsnips, celeriac, carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss to distribute the oil, then spread the vegetables on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast until the vegetables start to caramelize at the edges, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the stock, beer, cooked barley, thyme, and vegan worcestershire sauce in a large dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

When the roasted vegetables are done, carefully transfer the roasted vegetables to the stock. Add parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately with some nice crusty bread and a pint of your favourite beer.