Sunday, August 14, 2016

Blueberry Glace Tart

I am back folks!!!! Back in so many ways! Back to my blog, back from Spain, back to school. It's August and its blueberry time in Maine.  I was browsing through my photos and found these gorgeous shots of this incredibly tasty summer time treat, cool for a hot day and made with fresh Maine blueberries. 

This is not an original recipe, but one my mom had clipped years ago out of the newspaper. It is a hit, sure to please. Its easy and pretty effortless too. 


Ingredients

You will need a 9 1/2 inch removable bottom tart pan. Also you will need to allow a minimum of 1 hour to chill the tart. 

CRUST

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
FILLING
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 to 8 ounces cream cheese
TOPPING
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups washed fresh blueberries with stems removed (divided into 1 cup mashed and 5 cups whole) 
CRUST: Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Step 1:
 Combine flour, sugar and pecans. Cut in butter and mix until mixture is crumbly. (this is done most easily in a large food processor with a few whirls). 
Step 2: 
Pat onto the bottom and partway up the sides of the tart pan. 
Step 3:
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until browned. Remove from oven and let cool completely. (turn off oven, that is all you will need it for) 

FILLING
Step 1: Cream sugar, milk and cream cheese until smooth. 
Step 2: Spread onto cooled crust. 

TOPPING
Step 1: With a medium wire whisk, mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add water slowly, stirring to keep mixture smooth. 
Step 2: Add 1 cup mashed blueberries and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and stir until thick--1-2 minutes. Cool to warm (no longer hot) 
Step 3: Arrange the remaining 5 cups of blueberries on top of cream cheese layer in crust. Spoon thickened glaze over berries. Refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour, preferably 3. 

To Serve: 

Serve chilled. Before removing the tart from the mold, carefully run a knife around the side of the pan, otherwise you may lose most of the crust. You will be left with the tart sitting on the bottom pan support, with side removed. Decorate as desired. 


If you so choose, you can substitute other fruit and berries for this recipe, keeping in mind the amount of sugar may need to be adjusted slightly. 




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Middle Eastern Delights: Falafel, Tzatziki and Baba Ganoush

School must have started, because all of a sudden its been nearly two months since my last blog post and summer has slipped away. This meal, a combo of three recipes, was something I intended to have on the blog in summer, when cucumbers are cool and perfect, the garden is brimming over with parsley and tomatoes, but a las, for those of us who live in cooler climates, we will have to rely on grocery store veggies. This meal is really pretty simple and quick. Its a great week night meal or great for entertaining.

Just to fill you all in on my whereabouts, I started a new job a month ago. I am back to teaching Middle School Spanish, and am really enjoying it. Starting a new job is always a learning curve. I have had a lot to catch up on and a lot to do to stay afloat. Zsuly started Kindergarten too. She is doing a Spanish Immersion program, which is fantastic. She comes home every day singing a new song in Spanish. Of course, I still am not allowed to speak to her in Spanish though. During the afternoons I am darting around, bringing her to swim lessons or ballet class. Trying to sneak in a run here and there, get enough sleep and cook healthy meals for the week. My blog is still on my radar, it just might be a little vacant until the slowdown of winter sets in.

The foliage here in Maine is just reaching peak. Driving to work has changed from an intense pallet of green to a watercolor canvas, splashed with fiery oranges, yellows and reds. Apple season is bountiful. I think I have collected at least 40-60 pounds of apples just from trees around town. Some have been crispy, juicy, eating apples, others were great in pie, apple sauce, and salads. We have also made pear and apple cider in the press the last two weekends. Sunday's dinner was Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, topped with crispy kale and pumpkin seeds. Filling and tasty. So perhaps this will be my last summer-like recipe, perhaps not.

Falafel

Ingredients



  • 1 can garbanzos drained and rinsed
  • 3 small cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • Olive Oil for frying
Step 1: Pat the chickpeas dry with kitchen paper. Pour into a food processor, add  the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, spices, lemon juice, flour and salt.  Blend until fairly smooth. If the mixture seems to soft add a little more flour. Using your hands, either roll the mixture into small balls or shape into  patties. 

Step 2: Heat the oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. Cook the falafel balls or patties about 3 minutes on each side, or until brown and crispy. You can crisp them up a bit in a 375° oven for 5-10 minutes. 

Step 3: Serve with warm pita bread, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, Tzatziki sauce and Baba Ganoush. (see recipes below)


Baba Ganoush 
Adapted from the minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large clove or garlic
  • 2 tbsp. tahini
  • salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle over top
Step 1: Wash the eggplant and poke a few times with a fork. Either in a 375° oven or on the grill, cook the eggplant until it is soft, the skin starts to brown and it gets oozy. If on the grill the skin can char a bit. 

Step 2: When the eggplant is well done, let it cool. Cut the eggplant so that you are able to scrape out the flesh. Place in a food processor and add remaining ingredients, except the oil. Blend until smooth. Adjust salt, tahini, and lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a bowl or sealable container and drizzle with the olive oil. 

Tzatziki Sauce
adapted from greek.food.com

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup greek yogurt (I like Fage)
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 large cucumber, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill and or mint
  • freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: In a food processor, blend together cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. When well blended, transfer to mixing bowl. 

Step 2:  Stir in the yogurt and mix well. Allow to chill for 1-2 hours. Stir well before use. 




Monday, August 24, 2015

Mango Lassi

As summer vacation is drawing to a close, I feel this twinge of sadness and a bit of choking anticipation as I know it will soon be time to say goodbye to summer. Warm days soaked in sunshine. Flowers spilling forth from my garden. Fresh veggies grown with sweat and love. Sleeping in until 7:30, an ultimate luxury. Sitting and sipping my coffee instead of gulping it down as I run frantically around the house, constantly looking at the clock. Long outdoor runs, which fill my lungs with the sweetness of bloom and the saltiness of the bay. I reflect on how summer is a time I truly recharge my soul and stock up on energy reserves to get me through the rest of the year. Its crucial. I let the sweetness and tartness of foraged fruits like plums and blackberries, linger a bit longer on my tongue, knowing that the sun kissed sweetness fades just a bit in the freezing and canning process. I also feel gratitude that there is at least another month of warm days, flowers, gardens and two months of outside time, before that nip of frost gets inside my veins. This summer has been a great one. Its surely filled me with self reflection and new goals. 

Sweetness and sunshine can truly be found in this easy and satisfying Mango Lassi Recipe. Im excited to have stashed some frozen mango chunks away in the freezer for a colder day. When things are crazy busy and I need to transport myself to those summer moments or that warm tropical island that I am relaxing on inside my head. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe mangos, cut away from pit and scoop out the fruit, careful not to get skin
  • 1/2 cup fat free or low fat plain greek yogurt (I like Fage)
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • lots of ice cubes
  • optional (1 tablespoon+ honey) 
Step 1: In a blender or Vitamix, blend fruit until pureed. 

Step 2: Add ice cubes and blend until smooth

Step 3: Add yogurt, milk and vanilla, blend until smooth

Step 4: If desired, add honey

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mediterranean Sandwich

This summer I have realized that I eat a lot of sandwiches, regardless of whether it is lunch or dinner. I pack them full of veggies and protein and sometimes serve them with a small side salad or soup and know that I am getting a pretty robust and healthy meal. 

This is pretty much the last remaining post from my grilling posts I started back in July. It uses the same marinade and steps to grill the zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and sweet bell peppers. I grill them ahead of time, let them cool and then store them in an air tight container in the fridge. Or if I want a hot sandwich, prepare them right off the grill. 



Ingredients
~makes about 4 generous sized sandwiches

  • 2 medium zukes, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1-2 colored peppers, washed, cut in half with seeds, membranes and stems removed
  • marinade from my grilling post
  • ciabatta or focaccia bread (focaccia is made with a lot of olive oil, keep this in mind when thinking about the fact that the veggies themselves contain a lot of oil)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, feta or goat cheese
  • pesto or hummus and/or olive tapenade
  • arugula 


Step 1: Once the veggies are cut, marinade according to the link above

Step 2: Grill the veggies until they are as well cooked as you desire. 

Step 3: Here is where you can get creative and make a number of combinations for sandwiches. Decide what you want as a spread for your sandwich: pesto or hummus with olive tapenade. Decide what kind of cheese you would like. Here are some of my favorite combos 
     Fresh mozzarella with pesto (follow link to my nut free pesto recipe) 
     Feta cheese with hummus and olive tapenade (Trader Joe's offers decent versions of both)
     Goat cheese with fresh dill 

Step 4: Spread the bread with your choice of smear and then layer on the veggies, cheese and arugula. If you want a hot sandwich, stick the sandwich open face under the broiler for a few minutes or grill them in a George Foreman to make a panini. Also great served cold on a hot summer day. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Sandwiches

Lunch Done Right

This is a post that I intended to get up way back in February. 

I was first introduced to the amazing Banh Mi sandwich when visiting my best friend in Seattle. For five bucks we got the perfect mid afternoon lunch, created by an amazing combination of flavors and textures, picante, salty, cilantro. It was sooooo good! I couldn't believe I had never had one before. 

I got to thinking about how easy they must be to make. Tested my theory and true, super simple. The pickled veggies, called Do Chua, is part of what makes the greatness of the sandwich. So I too was inspired to make my own. Below are the two recipes.





Do Chua: pickled diakon, carrots and cabbage       

Ingredients

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2-3 carrots peeled and sliced thinly or cut into matchsticks
  • 1-2 diakon, no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and prepared like the carrots
  • 1/2 green or napa cabbage cut into long pieces
  • 1 hot cherry pepper

Step 1: Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. 
Step 2: Using your hands, knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, to release the water from them. When they are somewhat softened and there is liquid at the bottom of the bowl, stop kneading. The daikon should be soft enough that the ends touch but the daikon does not break when bent in half. The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of their volume. 
Step 3: Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. 
Step 4.  In a 1 quart ball jar, make the brine by combining 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. 
Step 5: Transfer the carrot and daikon, along with cabbage and hot peppers to the jar of brine. The brine should cover the vegetables.Place the top on tightly and gently shake the jar from side to side to assure the veggies have all been coated. 
Step 6:  Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Don't be alarmed if they begin to smell quite pungent. 
Note: You can add a number of veggies to this recipe. Try shallots or salad turnips too. 
 Adapted from vietworldkitchen.com

Banh Mi 

Ingredients 
  • Soft rolls, such as Portuguese rolls
  • cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced thin, seeds removed
  • cilantro leaves, washed 
  • chopped scallions
  • marinated tofu, pork or beef sliced thinly (marinate using my teriyaki or bourbon marinade found under sauces label)
  • Do Chua (pickled veggies) 

Step 1: Marinate and prepare the meat  or tofu accordingly. 

Step 2: Slice a small wedge out of the top of the roll or cut a slit into the side of the roll, but not all the way through. 

Step 3: Place the tofu/meat in the roll, layer with the pickles, cucumbers, jalapeño, cilantro and finish with the scallions. 

Step 4: Eat and savor that flavor and how you just created an awesome, simple healthy lunch! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This has been one of those Maine summers that totally makes you fall in love. The weather has been perfect. Warm sunny days, sapphire skies filled with cotton candy clouds. On the water, the light shines so brightly, it makes each wave and ripple look as though they are crested with silver. 

I got a week to myself for the first week of August, while Zsuleikah was getting some good grandparent bonding time. I was really looking forward to some solitude and quiet. My first night solo, I headed up to Eustis, to sleep lakeside in Cathedral Pines Campground on Flagstaff Lake. It had been years since I had been up that way, and don't think I ever realized how incredibly beautiful it is. There had just been a rain storm earlier in the evening and fog was creeping its curling tendrils through the blue mountains and over the gray glassy lake. Daylight was closed with an incredible line of fire squashed between the cloud layer in the sky and the steadfast mountains. Reflecting pinks and purples on the water. As night creeped in, I built myself a fire to take off the chill of the dampness.  The blue moon rose quietly over the island speckled lake, as a loon family called back and forth to one another and the water lapped the sandy shore.

The next morning, I greeted the world with the rising sun, soaked in the peaceful morning and packed up camp to head to Mount Bigelow. Beauty surrounded me from the start of the trail. A bubbling brook seeping into Stratton Brook Pond, green mountains behind, green grasses reaching to the blue sky. My feet hit the ground and I began to clip along the Firewarden's Trail. About a mile and a half from the top, large moss covered boulders
positioned as stairs invited me to the summit, teasing me with tiny glimpses through the trees of the views that were awaiting me. When I reached the top of Avery Peak, my tired quads enjoyed resting on the windy mountain top, surrounded by a 360 degree view of Sugarloaf Mountain, Little Bigelow, Crocker Mountain and Flagstaff Lake. I continued on the trail toWest Peak, through miniature fairy forests on to South Horn and North Horn, eventually winding my way down to Horn Pond, and the rest of the way down the mountain. It was a little slice of 15 mile alpine heaven. It took me exactly 8 hours, reaching the car at 4:45 tired and accomplished. Before ending the day on the couch with two movies, I spent dusk meandering through my parents enormous garden with a cold beer in my hand, munching on green beans and peas, before finally grilling up some zucchini and tomatoes and tossing them with garlic, fresh basil and cream cheese into a huge bowl of pasta.  


I spent much of the next day harvesting food from my parents enormous garden. Cilantro, zucchini and squash, lettuce, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Before heading back to Portland with a cooler full of veggie loot, I picked an enormous bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace, Black Eyed Susans and Golden Rod. 

If you grow a garden like I do, then you are probably asking yourself during this time of year, "what do I do with all this zucchini?" My squash is just starting to come in, but I know it is a matter of days before I start asking that question.  Its the plant that once it starts, it just keeps on giving. I'll get back to the zucchini in a minute, but first want to share a bit this summer's experience in Maine.I make a lot of dishes using zucchinis. I love a Zucchini and Tomato Melt on a hot day. Zucchini Egg Casserole, Zucchini Enchiladas with Salsa Verde. And of course, if you have seen my posts about grilling, grilled zucchinis are super versatile. Since we also have a sweet tooth in our
household, baked zucchini goodies are also a favorite. I had always been used to traditional zucchini bread, which I love too. Then my friend Claire introduced me to these delicious chocolate muffins. She was always whipping them up as a treat in the summer whenever we were over. When I finally asked for the recipe, I was excited to see that aside from the amount of sugar, they were fairly healthy, made with a whopping two cups of zucchini and whole wheat flour. 


Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (regular fine too)
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, drained (if its super watery, drain well, a tiny bit of water will keep muffins moist) 
  • Non-stick spray for muffin tins if not using paper liners
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin (spray if not using paper liners) 

Step 2: Whisk together dry ingredients (first six ingredients on list)

Step 3: In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, then oil and vanilla. Beat slowly to combine. 

Step 4: Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients, mix until just blended. 

Step 5: Add zucchini and chocolate chips, mix until just combined.

Step 6: Spoon into prepared cups 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean they are done. Or if the top of the muffin is just barely sticky and springy, it is done. Let cool completely on a baking rack. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nothings Perfect Peachy Pie

Peach Pie: Striving For Balance Not Perfection

I had to make a little play on words with this post, because I am one of those perfectionist people. At least with most things. Its a lot of pressure trying to make things come out perfect all the time. I was recently reminded of my perfectionism working on a laborious project, trying to iron out every wrinkle, only to find a trail of wrinkles behind me, wanting it to be absolutely symmetrical. Snapping at my friends who were helping. 

Personal life scenarios also throw it in my face all the time. This past week has presented some serious ups and downs for me and also reminded me, life isn't perfect, no matter how hard we try and control the situation to make it that way. It's those imperfections that allow us the space to grow and learn, as hard as they might be sometimes. I am confronted with my perfectionism in the kitchen as well. Feeling disappointed when the texture, taste, color, presentation isn't exactly what I had envisioned. Of course, striving for greatness is a positive thing. It gives us reason to keep improving ourselves, our products, our relationships, etc. But we will never reach perfection. 

With the difficulties this week, have also come triumphs. I received news that I have been awarded a full scholarship to start a Yoga Teacher Training in October! Achieving balance, different than achieving perfection. This has been something I have wanted to do for ten years! The timing was never quite right, but I felt like now was the time, and success. I am trying to shift things in my life, career wise, as well as in other areas too, and I think this will be the perfect blazer at the start of the trail. 

I feel like I have been living on fruit this summer, at least fruit mixed in with other sumptuous yummies. What better time of the year than too spend most of your grocery budget on fresh fruit. Sometimes in Maine, getting good fresh fruit can be difficult and for years seemed near impossible. Since we are so far North and East, our fresh peaches and other stone fruits come much later in the season than other places across the country. But I have been quite impressed by those I could get at the supermarket. And not to mention, but the mangoes have been out of this world! Two fruits that make me very happy!


So with all that juicy peach eating, I am making a peach feed. Get ready for a lot of recipes featuring the fuzzy fellas. Peach salsa, Peach Caprese Salad, Salad with Honey, Goat Cheese and Fresh Peaches. Oh Yum! 


This peach pie recipe was from Two Peas and Their Pod. I made a few slight alterations and would probably add ginger to it next time. Especially considering Zsuleikah didn't like it anyway. I don't think she likes the texture of cooked peaches. With the extra crust we made her a little hand pie. I can include the directions to that below. Super easy, low sugar and aside from the buttery crust not so terrible for you. 



Ingredients 

Pie Crust
  • 2/12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, cold
  • 1 small egg, beaten, for the egg wash
  • Turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top of the crust to give it that sparkly look
Filling
  • 8 cups sliced peaches, skin removed
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (this includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, cardamom and lemon zest)
  • 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch, depending on how juicy your peaches are
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
I never have buttermilk on hand, and it seems silly to buy the large container that they sell in the store, when you never use that much. So here is a way to make buttermilk at home.   

Combine 1/2 cup of milk (I used 2%)  and 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (you can also use white vinegar) Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. And voila! buttermilk. 


Step 1: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Mix it well with a wire whisk. Add the cubed butter and toss with your fingertips to coat each cube in flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix the butter into the flour until it is nearly the consistency of very course cornmeal, it will be quite flakey. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
Step 2:  Remove from freezer and add the buttermilk. Use a spoon and then your hands to stir the mixture until it comes together into a ball. If it is too dry, add the water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in two. Place in ziplock bags or wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into disks.  Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Step 3. While the dough is chilling, make the peach pie filling.  In a large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, spices, cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Gently stir until mixed well. 
Step 4. When ready to roll out, let the dough rest at room temperature for five minutes. At this time you should preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough 13 inch circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pie dish. Fill pie with peach filling. Repeat with the second disk of dough. You can cut the dough and make a lattice over the filling. I used small cookie cutters to make different shapes to lay over the filling, but the juiciness of the pie made them a little soggy. Or you can you can just lay the rolled out dough over the top and cut a few vents with a sharp knife. 
Step 5. Fold the edges of the top and bottom crusts together and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch into a pattern. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
Step 6. Bake in a 400 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. My fruit wasn't notice bubbly, but I believe this was due to the type of crust I put on top. Let the pie cool completely on a wire cooling rack before cutting. And of course, best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
To make the hand pie. We rolled out the remaining dough. I spooned in some greek yogurt into the center on one side, sprinkled on a handful of blueberries, and a little sugar and folded over the dough. Then fold up the edges of the dough and press with your fingers or fork to seal. Lastly, cut some steam vents into the top. There was plenty of egg wash left to brush with the egg wash.