Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Satsuma Plum Tart

 Beautiful Satsuma plums went into the making of this simple plum tart.

A little sugar and a touch of fortified wine to deepen the flavors is all I added.

The plums wanted to shine.

Farmers market plums from Neukom Family Farm:  Local.  Organic.  Meaty.  Plump.  Juicy.  Deeply red inside and out.  Aren't they sweethearts?  They're even shaped like hearts.  And they taste every bit as delicious as they look, whether eaten out of hand or in this tart.  I used all ten of these in the filling.

As you will see in the recipe, I made this tart with a flour-based crust and regular white sugar.  But since I more often than not espouse using gluten free flours and little to no sugar, I've included measurements for those as well.

Not much more to say.  I'll let the plums do the talking.

Satsuma Plum Tart
Christine's original recipe
Makes one 10-inch tart

For the dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 140 grams gluten free flour)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (or 1 packet Splenda)
  • 1/3 cup salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

For the filling:

  • 10 or so Satsuma plums, sliced 1/4-inch thick (should make 3-4 cups sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or 1 tablespoon Splenda-Sugar Blend)
  • 2 tablespoons Dubonnet Rouge (optional)
  • Tapioca starch if needed

To make the crust, pulse the flour and sugar together in a food processor.
Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas and incorporated into the flour.
Using the feed tube, add the cream while pulsing.
Add the water a small amount at a time while pulsing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Gather up the dough in plastic wrap and make a ball to bring it all together.
Roll the dough out on a floured cloth to a 12-inch diameter.
Gently roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll over the tart dish.
Gently push the dough into the dish; you should have a 2-inch overhand all around.  Trim this to 1-inch then tuck under so the edge is now just inside the tart dish and about a quarter-inch higher.  Gently push the edges into the scallops of the dish.
Place into the fridge to chill for at least one-half hour.

To make the filling, toss the sliced plums, sugar and Dubonnet Rouge together and allow to sit at room temperature for at least one-half hour.
If your plums make a lot of juice in the bowl, toss them with a teaspoon or so of tapioca starch.  The starch will become clear upon baking and will not discolor the finished tart.

Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the plums are cooked through and bubbly.  I had to lower the heat to 350 after 50 minutes to finish baking the tart without over-browning the crust.

When the tart is done, place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Slice and serve simply, as is, or adorn with whipped cream, creme Anglaise (vanilla custard sauce), or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Garlic: Garden Grown

Those photos, top and bottom?  They are why I grow garlic.  That, and . . .    I can.  I didn't know that before last year.  That I can grow garlic.  That it would be so easy and so satisfying.

How can I explain what it's like to walk out to the garden, dig up a huge head of garlic, wash it, peel it, roast, saute, grate raw, do whatever with it,  fresh from the earth?

The cloves are pure, pure white.  Moist.  Mild yet unmistakably garlicky.  No bitter germ here.

As they dry and cure their pungent odor wafts about the kitchen; not overbearing, but a gentle reminder that cloves are at hand when you need them and that you will need fewer in each dish with the ageing.

If you're a garlic lover, as in more is always better, - better yet, if you grow your own - you know of what I speak.

I've just pulled the last of this year's crop. The braid you see below is a small example of my hoard and I hope  I will have enough to last through the winter.

Already I'm turning and feeding the garden beds for an early spring planting when I plan to double the crop.

I also plan to document the process and will bring it to these pages as the months progress.  I'm even going to experiment with planting a few in pots, just to see how they do.  I'll let you know.

Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Monday, August 20, 2012

Labneh with Olive Oil and Sumac

Plain, whole fat yogurt drained of its whey for 24 hours.

Pooled in a really, really good olive oil.

Sumac sprinkled on top.

You must make this.


Nisrine of Dinners and Dreams has the process and the beautiful photos.


Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Friday, August 17, 2012

San Marzano Tomatoes

While the rest of the U.S. is awash in ripe, red, juicy, delicious tomatoes, we gardeners (at least this gardener) here on the northern California coast are still waiting, watching and coaxing our tomatoes to grow (please) and become edible before the chill of fall sets in.

This does not mean that we are tomato deprived.  On the contrary, our inland farmers bring plenty of heirloom tomatoes to the farmers markets in our area and I buy lots of them.

Stubborn gardener that I am, I started these guys in the greenhouse hoping the warmer temperature within would give me ripe tomatoes sometime this summer.

Then came the white flies.  Clouds of them.

I do not use pesticides, even so-called organic ones.

So I moved the tomatoes to the outside garden.  Where they now sit in their warm black pots.  Pampered.  Not growing.  Sigh.

We have just learned that this July on the North Coast has been one of the foggiest on record since the late 1800s.

One would think that after 18 years of living here I would just get over trying to grow tomatoes.  I guess the part of my life before moving here, the part where I grew up and lived in the hot Sacramento Valley, the part where tomatoes were ripe, red, juicy and delicious by the end of June, that part simply will not give up.

Suggestions welcome.

Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Garden Fresh Recipe for Gremolata with Meyer Lemon and Capers

Gremolata with Meyer Lemon and Capers

Everything but the capers came from my back yard.  This is the way I love to cook (well, alright ... chop):  go outside, pick a lemon, pull a head of garlic, grab some parsley  ...   put it together and you have a bursting-with-flavors condiment that can be sprinkled on grilled salmon, a slow-cooker stew, roasted vegetables.

Please don't skip making this because you don't have a Meyer lemon tree, or parsley, or garlic growing in your garden.

Please.  Make it anyway.  It's so good.

Gremolata is a an Italian condiment traditionally made with garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.  The capers are my addition to a fairly standard recipe. Leave them out if you wish.

Garden Fresh Gremolata with Capers

  • Flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Meyer lemon, or regular lemon if you prefer
  • several cloves garlic, fresh if possible
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • sea salt to taste, optional

Coarsely chop enough parsley to measure 1-2 tablespoons.
Zest the lemon and chop to measure about 2 teaspoons
Peel and coarsely chop a few cloves garlic to measure 1 tablespoon (less if you find fresh garlic overpowering).
Finely chop the capers. Set aside.
Put the prepared parsley, garlic and lemon zest together on a cutting board and chop together until finely minced.  Don't mince so much that the ingredients become wet; you want this to be on the dry side.
Add the capers and mix well.  Adjust with sea salt if desired.
That's it!

Keep leftover gremolata in a plastic wrap-covered dish in the fridge.  Use it within a few days so it doesn't get sad. :-(

Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Purple Potato Salad with Kalamata Olives and Smoked Paprika Dressing

This is the time of year when an onslaught of recipes featuring an overload of garden-grown zucchini hits the Internet as bloggers, gardeners, and cooks frantically try to use up their crop.

I don't have that problem.

Nope.  My two zucchini plants produce (slowly) just the right amount of fruits for the two of us, sometimes a bit more but nothing alarming.  Nothing I can't deal with.

Freshly dug garden potatoes

My problem is a plethora of purple potatoes.

Purple Majestic potatoes

Of the white, red and purple potatoes that I planted last spring, the purples are the most prolific yielding  more than 20 pounds to date, from 'creamer' size to fist size, with more still in the ground.

I have no idea how I'm going to use them all.

The thing about these purple potatoes?  The variety I planted, Purple Majesty which are purple all the way through to their hearts, are loaded with antioxidants.  Look it up.  In the potato world that means healthy.

Thank heavens.

(Of course, healthy only goes so far:  If you slather your potatoes with oodles of butter and sour cream all bets are off.  Just sayin'.)

One way to use up a quantity of potatoes is to make potato salad.  So when the call went out last week for a pot luck dinner, with the host craving potato salad, three of us complied.  All were delicious.  Mine was purple.

I wanted to play with flavors that would be as unusual as a purple potato salad is unusual so I tossed them with ingredients that are in my standard vinaigrette dressing, using mayonnaise instead of olive oil, and added smoked paprika because the smoked pepper spread that I made from Lydia's post , and which is slathered on the avocado and tomato sandwich that you see in the top photo, was so good (I've made it twice already) that I've had smoked paprika on the brain.

This was good.  Rather adult.  The kalamatas added to the Mediterranean bent and I was quite pleased with the results.

Purple Potato Salad with Kalamata Olives and Smoked Paprika Dressing
Christine's original recipe
serves 6

  • 1 pound (or so) purple potatoes, skins on or off to your liking, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon golden balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used Pimenton de la Vera dulce)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt for the pot
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste to finish the dish

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the kosher salt. Bring to a low boil over medium high heat. Cook until you can pierce the potatoes with a knife. If you overcook these they will begin to fall apart which, as you can see from the photos, they tend to do anyway.
When done, immediately pour the potatoes into a colander and allow them to drain for several minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, golden balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and smoked paprika until well  blended.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, add the chopped kalamatas and one half of the dressing and toss gently.  Add more dressing if needed until the salad is the consistency you like and tastes well dressed.  (I say this because tastes vary and it's better to start off on the conservative side with the dressing.)
Adjust seasonings with the sea salt and pepper if desired.
Can be served immediately or chilled if not using right away.


Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved