Gluten Free Braised Lamb Ravioli With Shitake Parsley Broth

55

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gluten Free Ravioli

I hope that everyone celebrating Thanksgiving this past week had a wonderful time doing so. I can safely say this Thanksgiving ranks high in the "best to date" for us. The food was outstanding. The company was delicious. Oh wait. It should be the other way around...As I told B. that evening after a strong cocktail "we had fun and we had fun making fun". That pretty much sums it up.

Making Pasta

I live for moments like these. Moments when friends just know that they are going to have a good time, relax and leave their worries behind. When they feel comfortable to dig into the fridge, get out the cutting board and chop away, preparing a delicious meal in a cacophony of pots and pans. I wanted nothing more than great friends around me at the dinner table and I got just that. I'm a very lucky girl.

Making Fresh Gluten Free Ravioli

Thank you Tami, Mike, Broderick and Jack for such a rocking day! As far as time with friends goes, I want days like Thursdays everyday. As far as the food goes, Thanksgiving seems to kick start my desire for comfort food. Perfect for slow simmering dishes such as braises or stews. Perfect for a little ravioli making action on a slower holiday weekend.

Making Fresh Gluten Free Ravioli

I have been meaning to make gluten free ravioli for so long but always found excuses not to. Truth is, I was concerned the taste would not be right and the dough would be too firm and to dry to hold my filling. That was of course until I tried Shauna's and Danny's recipe for gluten free pasta dough in their just released cookbook. So easy to make that you can have a bowl of fresh linguine on your plate in a little time and with minimum effort.

Stuffing for Ravioli

I could have stopped at making simple fresh pasta but one of my favorite vendors at the market, Jason from Meat House always takes care of me with something special. This time it was a nice big lamb beck. I scratched my head for a second, and seeing that he had just derailed my cooking plan for the week, he volunteered preparations and applications. When he said the words "ravioli", my ears stopped listening to any other suggestions.

Prepped Ravioli

I remembered seeing the picture for Shauna's ravioli and immediately bookmarking it so once home I started the preparation for the dough and the filling. The beauty of ravioli is that you can fill them with just about everything you like. Right now I am tempted to shred some leftover Thanksgiving turkey with a little spinach and ricotta and do another batch. You could even make them completely vegetarian if you wanted.

We did not peep a word during our meal and ate as slowly as we could to enjoy every bit of it. You know...I might do just that for dinner tonight. Again. The broth is so light and refreshing you'd want to tilt your bowl and slurp...

Gluten Free Ravioli


Braised Lamb Ravioli With Shitake Parsley Broth:

Serves 4

Notes: the combinations of gluten free flours I used differs from Shauna's as I used what was already in my pantry, feel free to substitute also according to your tastebuds and budget.
I like to mix the vegetables used to flavor the stock (mirepoix of carrot, celery and onion) for a few reasons: I hate to waste perfectly good food and it's a good way to sneak in more fiber and veggies into my husband's diet but feel free to use straight meat in the filling.
I know I don't cut my ravioli the most conventional or easiest way. That's my brain working right there. It does not matter how you get there as long as you get there. It's not labeled on the ravioli as you serve them, how they were cut. The taste is what counts.
I did not have a pasta machine to roll the ravioli dough so they were a little thick but still wonderful.


For the braised lamb neck:
2 tablespoons oil, divided (olive or canola)
one 1 pound lamb neck
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bouquet garni (I did thyme, rosemary, marjoram, peppercorn, coriander seeds in a piece of cheese cloth and dump the whole thing in with the meat)
4 cups beef stock or water
salt and pepper

For the shitake parsley broth:
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup shitake mushrooms thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Stock from the meat preparation (at least 1 1/2 cups)

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Sear the lamb neck on all sides and remove from the pot temporarily.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook until slightly browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Return the meat to the pot, add the bouquet garni and enough of the beef stock to reach halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and let the meat braise until fork tender (2-3 hours)adding more stock or water if the levels get critically low.
Remove the meat from the pot, let cool on the side. Drain the liquids from the vegetables in a strainer over a large bowl. Discard the bouquet garni. Refrigerate the stock until most of the fat raises to the top to skim it out. In the meantime, shred the meat from the lamb neck over the vegetables and mix well with your hands or a fork. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium and saute the shitake and garlic for a couple of minutes, add the parsley and the stock. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep warm or reheat when ready to serve.

For the ravioli dough, adapted from Gluten Free Girl And The Chef's recipe for gluten free pasta dough:
2/3 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 egg yolks

Sift together the millet flour, rice flour and potato starch along with the xanthan and guar gums. Add the kosher salt and dump the mixture in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks.
By hand, Make a well in the center of the flour mix and dump the egg mixture. Working from the outside in with your hands or a large spoon, gather the flour over the eggs and work your way in until all the flour mix and liquids are mixed in. Gather the dough into a ball and use right away or keep well wrapped in the fridge until ready.
In a stand mixer, place the flours in first then add the egg mixture and mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the dough gathers into a ball. Use right away or park in the fridge, well wrapped.

Make the ravioli:
If you are using a pasta machine, divide the dough into four balls and roll them out to 1/2-inch thickness in between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Lightly flour the dough on both sides and run through the machine, increasing the setting each time until the dough is almost paper thin.
If you are making the dough by hand, roll each ball as thin as you can in between sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Cut the rolled out pasta into 2-inch square pieces. Add about 2 teaspoons of the meat filling in the middle. Brush the edge of the square with a little water and place another square right on top, press down and drimp the edges with a fork. You can also use a ravioli cutter to make your life easier.
Place a large stock pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil, add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoons and place in a serving dish. Reheat the shitake parsley sauce if necessary, pour it over the ravioli and serve.

Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Tart With Mascarpone Cream

57

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

Holidays really have a tendency to make us marvel at the time gone by year after year don't they? We shake our heads in denial and wonder how can time fly by this fast. Right now I am grinning as I look at the calendar, thinking that I've done a lot and yippee there is way more to do! There are things I'll happily leave behind when the new year rolls in but overall I am saying out loud "Yes! Let's do this again and often please!" That's worth a good slice of pie and glass of milk.

Pumpkin

Like most of you celebrating Thanksgiving, the week is going to be a bit of whirlwind at the house. Some of you travel to be with your family, some of you host the traditional dinner, some of you try your best to avoid the madness of it all, stores and crowds. Some of us still have to work and meet deadlines in the middle of it. That's the holidays indeed.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

This year we decided to break the routine and decided that since Christmas was already planned to happen here with B's family, we could make ourselves scarce and gather some of our favorite people around a table full of good food, good cheers and good talks. If I had one word for the driving force behind this past year for us, it would be "friends" and I am thankful for the ones coming to stay with us this week.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

One thing I have learned to bake for Thanksgiving in B's family was pumpkin pie. And sweet potato pie. And pecan pie. And...well that's plenty to give you an idea that pumpkin pie was not something I grew up eating or making. I have to admit that up until a few weeks ago I liked it "fine" or "ok". Yes, I am definitely a pecan pie kind of girl. So what changed?

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

Well. The great thing about photographing cookbooks is the amount of recipes I get to cook and style before anyone else. Like a secret mission. No matter how complicated, long, short, easy...from just ok to outstandingly delicious. There is a bit of a void when a shoot wraps up and I know that once the files are processed and sent off, well the baby is not mine anymore. It grows in the hands of a team of people putting the author's words together with my images. A part of me does not want it to end.

You can imagine that after finishing Holly Herrick's cookbook shoot a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to hear that her publisher wanted her to post a few recipes on her blog already. Teasers if you want until next Fall that the book comes out. A nice little way to hang on to the fun I had shooting a little longer. I am glad Holly started with the Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Tart as you can see in the sliced shot which will be in her book. A little sneak peek and a great recipe. Right on time for Thanskgiving.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie

I am insanely thankful for all the things I got the chance to photograph and write this year. I am grateful for the opportunities to photograph, co-author and author myself in the year to come. I could never have done it without your support and faith in reading the words on this page. Week after week. Thank you guys for all that you have given me. I hope that I gave it back tenfold and more and will work my hardest to keep doing so.

You are the best! Happy Thanksgiving!

Big congratulations to Audrey Han for winning a copy of Gluten Free Girl and The Chef! Send me your address at mytartelette {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll pass it on.


Here is the link to Holly's blog for the Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Tart to check out the recipe and her notes about it.

I used eight 4-inch tart pans instead and baked them at the same temperature for about 15 minutes.

I topped mine with a little mascarpone cream:
4 oz mascarpone at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and honey. Carefully fold in the whipped cream. Spread as little or as much as you wish on top of the baked tart.



For the option of a gluten free crust, check here for a few options.

Orange & Pastis Braised Baby Fennel

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Orange & Pastis Braised Baby Fennel

Instead of worrying if I'd have time or where I'd find time to come update with posts and recipe, I thought I'd start a mini series of posts instead. Shorter posts with recipes geared toward the upcoming holidays or inspired by the plethora of produce and items I find every weekend at the farmers market.

Depending on the time and subject at hand, some post might be shorter than others but this blog is a place of stress relief and comfort first and foremost. For you and for me. For my mom too so that she can see I don't "forget to eat". Seriously. Forgetting to eat? She had to be thinking about someone else.

Mise En Place

In the spirit of making it count and making something good, I want to share a side dish we have been eating twice already this week: Orange & Pastis Braised Baby Fennel. Sweet, a little tart and full of the wonderful aroma of anise and citrus. B. said it was like eating candied vegetables and I am so glad I put 2 bunches of baby fennel in my basket at the farmers marker last weekend. He frowned. Now he's rubbing his belly in approval. Ahah!

I am keeping this as my secret weapon depending on our final menu for Thanksgiving. I must confess that I *can't* wait for Thanksgiving this year as Tami from Running With Tweezers, her boyfriend Mike, Broderick from Savory Exposure and Chris from Mele Cotte are making the drive from Atlanta to Charleston to spend a few days and celebrate Thanksgiving at our house. Food! Slumber Party! Happy Hour! Farmers Market! Walks!

Baby Fennel

We have been talking about the food for a few weeks now and there are some wonderful dishes in the works! Be prepared for some sneak peeks and posts about our dinners. That's what you get when bloggers, bakers, food stylists, food photographers, food enthusiasts gather together around the table!

I am thankful for their gift of friendship and love to us. These folks are like my second family and I am a lucky to have these few days with them in our gorgeous city.

** You still have until Sunday to enter the giveaway for Gluten Free Girl and The Chef Cookbook! Just head over there and put your name in the virtual hat! **

Orange and Pastis Braised Baby Fennel

Notes: It's one of those dishes that require little in the form of active hands on preparation and that cooks on its own while you can tend to more pressing issues. You can definitely use regular sized fennel for this recipe and do without the pastis by using a couple of anise seeds and broth or water instead. The anise should be subtle enough to play up the natural aroma of the fennel while the orange gives it a nice floral and sweet note.

Serves 4

2 bunches baby fennel or 2 medium bulbs fennel (fronds discarded - keep them for salads!)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (clementines right now are perfect for this in the South East)
zest of one orange
1/4 to 1/3 cup Pastis (or equivalent in water + 2 star anise)
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the baby fennels in half lengthwise. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan (I like to use cast iron as much as possible) set over medium high heat and sautee the baby fennels until they start to get golden. Add the orange juice, orange zest, Pastis and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the baby fennel is fork tender, 40 minutes to an hour. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the liquids reduce to a syrup and coat the fennel completely. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve hot.

Thin Crust Pear Tart - Tarte Fine Aux Poires For Gluten Free Thanksgiving & A Giveaway

278

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pear Tarte Fine

As I was making this tart for Shauna's Gluten Free Thanksgiving Baking Round Up, I started reflecting on how much I enjoyed being an expat in America around the holidays. I now have an entire second family, a tight group of friends and handful of added occasions to celebrate new traditions and holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc... Even Christmas in B's family is light years away from mine. Starting with the food of course.

I did not grow up around pumpkin pie, pecan pie or double crusted apple pie but like anyone entering another family, expat or not, there are new traditions I have come to love. Some I have been privileged to make my in-laws discover as they let me bring my own creations to their tables. One of these dishes was my grandmother's Tarte Fine Aux Pommes. She was famous for it. And for good reason. One of the simplest and yet most aromatic and satisfying thin crusted pie I have ever had.

Forelle Pears

She'd start by making a very basic applesauce with heirloom and very tart apples, a bit of cardamom, and lemon. She'd then layer it at the bottom of a very thin pate brisee crust and top the tart with thin slices of fresh apples. It was thin on all counts, rustic and absolutely amazing. The textures, fragrances. That bit of crunch from the crust, the oozing applesauce underneath and the pretty slices of apples on top. A feast for all senses.

When Shauna sent out an email to put together a massive round up of gluten free baking recipes for Thanksgiving, my head started spinning. Wow! Thanksgiving was indeed so close and I felt like I was already one train wagon behind! But it is indeed necessary to start such a big round up filled with so many options for baked treats for the holidays. Whether you are gluten free or need to bake gluten free for someone coming to break bread at your table, that round up provides you with so many delectable options.

Go check it out on Shauna's blog. It's awesome. And tempting. And delicious.

Centerpiece

I first thought about making pumpkin pie but it's not our true favorite to celebrate. We tend to like apple pie and tarte tatin, tarte fines and the like. Instead of using apples like my grandmother, I chose one of my favorite Autumn fruit, Forelle pears. They are juicy and fragrant. Cute as can be and one fits in my pocket quite perfectly...

I was going to go with Shauna and Danny's recipe for Asian Pear Tart in their book but the Asian pears were literally the size of mini watermelons so I substituted Forelle pears and instead of making applesauce like Grandma would have, I followed Shauna's directions to use apricot jam. I knew there was a reason I was holding on to that last of homemade apricot jam from this summer! You don't have to go that extent but don't skip on the quality is all I'm sayin'...

Pear Tarte Fine

Did you see the giveaway going there on her blog? Pretty cool, non?! Guess what?...Shauna is graciously giving one copy of their book to one of you guys! Whether you like stories, recipes, tips, challenges, there is something for everyone. There is love to share. Beautiful words, delicious recipes and inspired photography by Lara Ferrroni. A feast for the senses!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday November 21st at midnight Easter time, when my better half will draw a winner at random. No anonymous comment, sign an initial, X or a name so I know you are not a robot! One entry per person. Good luck!

Pear Tarte Fine


Forelle Pear Tart - Tarte Fine Aux Poires - Adapted from "Asian Pear Tart" in Gluten Free Girl & The Chef.

Notes: I am writing down the recipe as Shauna and Danny wrote it for their book and adding my changes as I go along. The only reason behind my substituting flours was due to our personal preferences and what I have on hand in the pantry.

For the crust:
1/2 cup sorghum flour - I used millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca four - I used corn flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon - I left it out
pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) frozen butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup ice cold water

Filling:
6-7 medium Asian pears - I used 10 Forelle pears
1/3 cup sugar - I used 1/4 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped - I used 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 cup apricot jam

Prepare the tart shell:
Sift together the millet flour, corn flour, potato starch and sweet rice flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon if using and salt. Sift into another bowl (I admit I skipped that part).
Grate the frozen butter directly into the dry ingredients with a medium cheese grater. Work with your fingertips until the dough feels like cornmeal or large pieces of sand.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and the water together with a fork. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the liquid, and start gathering the dough together with your hands or a fork. Gather the dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Butter and flour an 11-inch tart shell (I used 2 rectangular pie shells). Pull the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature a little. Roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to the approximate size of your tart pan. If the dough tears a little, just piece it back together with your fingertips.
Freeze the tart dough for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is freezing, preheat the oven to 375F. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough, fill with dry beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare the filling:
Core and peel the pears and toss them with the honey and cardamom (or vanilla bean and sugar if using).
Spread the apricot jam evenly at the bottom of the pie shell and layer the pear slices on top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve with whipped cream if desired.











Gluten Free Crepes With Honey Lavender Roasted Persimmons & Some News

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Gluten Free Crepes & Roasted Persimmons

Given my love for corny, it should be no surprise to hear me say that you have no idea how perfectly perfect it was to sit down to breakfast this morning on the back deck. Crips skyes, warming sun, pups by my side, all wrapped up in comfy blanket, a hot cup of coffee and a gluten free crepe filled with lavender roasted persimmons.

**STOP** Let's keep this real shall we? It was 6am. It was downright nippy cold. The pups started barking at the squirrels and I ended up spilling my coffee on the cozy blanket. But, let's face it... my positive disposition is more inclined to wipe off the coffee and become deaf to the sound of two crazy wild beasts barking their heads off just for the sake of waxing poetic about crepes.

Persimmons

That's what I like about writing and photography. Any form of artistic expressions actually. It's yours to do whatever you want and give to people. Some will get it, some won't but a civilization honored with that name will let you be and say and play.

I for one, decided this morning to look on the bright side of things for so many other reasons than to depict a blissful image of something that was just not happening as I thought it would. If you have read my previous post about my hectic relationship with breakfast well, then you realize that my morning episode was a feat in itself. I was sitting to eat. Breakfast. That's big.

Persimmons En Papillote

I also quickly realize that I was as exactly as my husband likes to describe me: I have a real coeur d'artichaut. I fall in love easily and often in love. It's not that I don't know what I want, quite the opposite. I just don't want to avoid emotions and sensations. How does that relate to crepes, persimmons and breakfast? I stubbornly and repeatedly try to fall in love with breakfast. And in that regard, I clearly lean towards breakfasts that pack a punch and awaken sensations versus the cereal and milk days of my childhood. Like with most things, it's got to keep me entertained.

Crepes rank pretty high on my list of "entertaining breakfasts". I think I am seriously developing serious tastes for seriously stylish items in the morning. Chocolate tamaring cupcakes? Check? Crepes? Check? With en papillotes roasted persimmons? Ouuh la la! Add a touch of honey and a sprinkle of lavender buds and you are about to smack me on the head! I know! I would too if it weren't for the fact that oh dear, the combination is so good, I hope you try it if you can.

Gluten Free Crepes

I have no idea where, how, why I came up with that one, but the moment fuyu persimmons went on sale at the market, I knew I'd roast them with honey in little parchment paper pockets. That was that. The lavender? Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm more of a "why not?" kind of gal than anything so it was worth a try. Or it was simply the result of too much coffee on a bright sunny day...

You have no idea how giddy I am knowing that I finally nailed down a gluten free recipe for crepe that we all like and behaves exactly like its gluten counterpart. Crepe parties! Been way too long since I had a warm sugar crepe and a cup of tea on a chilly Autumn day. Well, no more!

Gluten Free Crepes & Roasted Persimmons

Roasting fruits or vegetables in parchment paper is a fun little technique to optimize and concentrate flavor as well as minimize cleanup. Always thinking about efficiency...Do not worry about how neat or pretty the packages are as long as they are tightly sealed. Feel free to use another seasonal fruit such as pears or apples, or stone fruits and berries if it's Summer where you live. There is no wrong way to go about it just tons of possibilities.

This brings me to a little big news to share with you. Back in June, I forwarded an email to B. asking him to "please stop pulling my leg with pranks like this. It's just not funny dude". He replied "honey, I did not." and I went "Oh shoot". It was from Wiley Publishing. Yeas. "The" Wiley Publishing. They asked if I would be interested in writing a food photography book. In my voice. In my words. To share with budding photographers and food bloggers wanting to keep learning, the fundamentals of taking photographs for their blogs, or their products.

Writing...

It's not just photography, and it's not just styling. It's not just natural light and it's not just artificial. It's not just about what to do to get the shot and it's not just about workflow and editing. It's not a definite how-to. It can't be such a book in photography as this world constantly evolves with people and subjects. It's meant to be a resource book for your to learn from, grow with and pass on to someone who might need it.

Yes. It's meant to share information and tools and let you use what you need/want from it. It's not meant to tell you what to do but to give you options to enjoy taking photographs . It comes without any other pretensions.

The manuscript is due in February and the book is scheduled to be released in May 2011. So yes....I am writing. And photographing to illustrate ideas and points. And working with Carrie Vitt on a dessert cookbook for next year as well my other clients in the meantime (gotta keep the electricity on - I hear it's really important and all!!).

As I said last week: send chocolates. And coffee. And some bourbon. I think...

Crepes

In the meantime, it's Friday evening and we're having a crepe party at the house! Have a great weekend!

Gluten Free Crepes With Honey Lavender Roasted Persimmons:

Makes 12 crepes

For the crepes:
125gr potato flour (about 3/4 cup) (I use Ener-g Potato Starch Flour)
125gr millet flour (about 3/4 cup)
pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
1/2 cup light beer (or club soda or cider)

For the roasted persimmons:
6 Fuyu persimmons
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lavender buds

Apricot jam
whipped cream or vanilla yogurt

Prepare the crepes:
In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
If you decide to do it by hand: combine the flours and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly add the liquids. When all is in, add the beer or club soda.
No matter what method you used, strain the batter if necessary. Refrigerate, covered for an hour or overnight.
In a saute pan (8 to 10 inches round) set over medium high heat, laddle 1/3 cup batter (depending on the size of your pan) and cook 2 minutes on each side.

Prepare the fruit:
Cut twenty four 7-inch square pieces of parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F and position a rack in the middle.
Peel and core the persimmons as you would apples cut in half. Cut each half into thirds or quarters (depends on size of fruit). Place six to eight pieces of fruit in the middle of one parchment paper square, top with one tablespoon of butter, one tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of lavender. Place a second piece of parchment on top and seal the edges over themselves to close the package.
Repeat the procedure until you run out of fruit.
Place on two baking sheets and roast for about 20-30 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes before cutting the packages open. Be careful of the steam!

To assemble, layer some apricot jam at the bottom of each crepe, top with some roasted persimmons, add some whipped cream if desired and close. And eat. Of course.

A Bowl Of Crab Soup - Catching Dinner In The "Backyard"

54

Monday, November 08, 2010

Crab Soup

People I meet when on travels are often wondering whether I am exaggerating when I enthusiastically mention getting our dinner fresh from the dock or the sea. The answer as you can see from the pictures below is no. Not at all. All the possessions in the world will never equate the intense sense of gratitude we feel from being so close to the water and taking some time receiving from the ocean some of its bounty.

Extended Backyard
View from the dock - what we call "the extended backyard".

We are indeed lucky to be able to just go catch a dozen crabs on a sunny Sunday afternoon or cast our net during shrimp season to make fresh shrimp and pesto linguine for dinner. Yes. We know. Once that first shrimp hits our lips, we can smell and taste all the depths of the ocean in just one bite. Slightly sweet, a bit salty, strong earthy flavor. It's like that first sip of perfectly cold beer on a sweltering day. Magic.

Bailey At The Dock
Bailey is one happy puppy!

I sort of apply the same feelings to the first soup enjoyed on the first chilly day of the year. I've been making the same ones every season. Crab soup and lentil soup with a poached egg on top. I can't say we get really cold weather here, maybe for a few weeks, but the little nip of crisp and chill weather is enough to turn everyone to light fires and make soup. Just because it's a bit chilly. Just to take the edge off.

Setting and Lowering Crab Traps
Bailey and Bill checking on the crab catching progress.

Impatiently waiting for a drop in temperature last week, I got the pups and the husband to the dock to enjoy the cool ocean breeze for a little while. Once home, I opened up all the windows one night and let the breeze come wafting in while I started simmering this soup.

Dinner Catch - In My Backyard
This guy is a little cold - not too speedy to realize what the heck is going on...

Anyone who has spent some time with the ocean will tell you that the world moves at a different pace. It tells you when your dinner is caught, not the other way around. It tells you to slow down for a while and just be. Observe. You might see some pretty nifty things this way.

Pirate Fiddler Crab & Baby Shrimp

A fiddler crab that looks straight out of "Pirates of The Caribbean" he spent so much time under water. A baby shrimp almost translucent as it's still building strength and character. A few porpoises at sunset playing hide and seek on the horizon (pics next time).

Mad Crab
Trust me....he's not reaching for a hug.

Yes. I like traveling but I also like coming home. I am a mountain girl from the rocky side hills of Provence. I can also crack, pull apart and pick a crab faster than my mother in law now. Ha! I'm still discovering all that the ocean has to give and the abundant seafood culture of the South. But trust me I do my best every week while cooking to appreciate it even more. Starting with crab soup.

Simple, naturally sweet from the crab and with a tiny little kick to it, this soup is great as a starter for a celebration meal or on its own for a casual and cozy dinner. As with anything in life, it's best shared with loved ones and friends even though you might be tempted to hoard it all for yourself. Fair warning.

Picking Crab

A bowl of hot crab soup, a piece of bread and a crackling fire. It's good to be home and take a breather before the next adventure.

Crab Soup

P.S: Congratulations to Karin Alisa Houben and Kathy from Foodiebia - each winners of a copy of Food Heroes by Georgia Pelligrini. Send me your addresses at mytartelette {at} gmail {dot} com so that Georgia's publisher can get those out to you pronto!

Crab Soup, adapted from Cooking Light 2003.

Notes: If you get the chance to get fresh crabs, just cook them in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for about 8 minutes per crab. To pick a crab, this video is really easy to follow.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pound lump crab meat
2 tablespoons Cognac

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and the next 5 ingredients (through jalapeno), and sauté 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add salt, black pepper, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water, and cornstarch/water mixture and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently.
Stir in the milk and cream and cook 5 minutes. Stir in crabmeat and cognac cook 5 minutes or until the soup is thoroughly heated. Serve.

Fiadone, A Corsican Dessert & A Giveaway

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fiadone

I realize that I never posted a recap of my BlogHer Food experience and although work being the primary reason, well...I really don't have another reason. Many bloggers were doing such a good job at putting into words all the feelings experienced during that weekend that I commented on theirs instead of writing mine. I did go to BlogHer Food with some goals such as deliberately meeting some folks to see if my first online impressions matched my second in real life ones but also to let the unexpected guide me to meet new faces or take part in amazing conversations.

That's how I met Michael (deliciously devilish), and Stephen (super talented photog), told Aida Mollenkamp I digged her shoes of all things, had an Oprah moment in the conference hotel bathroom with Tami and Jeanne and finally crushed hard on this little firecracker of a woman, Georgia Pelligrini. And I also digged her boots. No I don't have a foot fetish, I just have major crushes on strong women, marrying beauty and fearlessness.

Simple Pleasures

Georgia could be a model. Instead she roams the world to discover "culinary artisans across the world, who are fighting to preserve their food traditions." She compiled 16 of them into a book "Food Heroes" that came out this past September. Listening to Georgia's enthusiasm about the people in each story was like drinking moonshine. It's sweet, powerful and it burns your eyes it's so good. I promised myself to order a copy as soon as I got home. Georgia beat me to it and sent me one with a little note telling me to check the chapters on the two artisans in France.

For the next 30 minutes I was in another world. It's one thing to tell the story of someone. It's another thing to tell someone's story. Georgia knows how to do just that. In no time I was back on the hills of my childhood, running among the olive trees and picking fresh figs to eat on the way back from school. I wanted to read about all the other people in her book and without realizing it, night had fallen while I was deep into the story of Bill Best, the seed librarian in Berea, Kentucky.

Fiadone

There's something comforting for an historian like me to know that some people make a life out of preserving food traditions. As Ruhlman said during the conference, "food is our humanity" and these people are our humanity keepers. Keeping traditions alive is a testament of our ability to understand passion for quality and care. I see that every Saturday morning when I go to the farmers market in downtown Charleston. We have genuine artisans among them, people with the skills of working their product in an ethical and organic fashion. To pass their passions and a bit of their story on to us everytime we go and take the time to chat for a couple of minutes.

It's a special treat to see these farmers' eyes light up with every question I ask or when I tell them what I cooked or baked with the produce or meats I got the week before. There is an exchange far beyond that of goods and paper bills. There is humanity. I always feel a little closer to that when I can buy a product in its raw form and turn it into something else, simply by applying the teachings of other artisans I met when I worked in restaurant kitchens. Food artisans and food lovers would be miserable without one another.

Last Four

I was really excited to get the first delivery of fresh goat's milk of the morning the other day at the market. I bought more than two people would consume in one week and I know the people at Joseph Fields Farm thought I was a bit strange. I had a plan. I had been craving faisselle, a soft large curd cheese I grew up eating and wanted to make a few batches with goat's milk for a change. I think if I were to become an artisan, I would raise goats and make cheese. I am serious.

I made so much faisselle that I quickly had to think about ways to use it. I love it barely drained from its whey with a bit of honey and a sprinkle of walnuts in the Winter. In the Summer, I like to mash up so raspberries and sugar along with it. In the Fall? Well...I had never thought about that one. Yet. Until one of our friend mentioned that his work stint was over with here and he was moving back to his native Corsica. I told him to come over for dinner and I would make Fiadone with the fresh faisselle I had just made.

Draining Goat Cheese Faisselle

I have spent very little time in Corsica but it was enough to fall in love with its people, its landscape, its energy and its food. One thing I loved almost as immediately as it hit my lips was the Corsican dessert Fiadone. It's really a cross between a flan and a cheesecake and usually made with brocciu, or brousse, a slightly curdles soft cheese made from cows or goats. All I had to do was make the faisselle, drain it as I would fresh cheese and we were in business.

I know not everyone has access to fresh goats milk to make faisselle for this dessert and the good news is that you can substitute ricotta or well drained yogurt in the same proportion. It is light and refreshing and you can really boost up the flavors anyway you want. We like it with loads of lemon zest but orange or freshly cut pear slices on top would be perfect for the season. Hope you give it a try!

Food Heroes

In the spirit of celebrating food crafters and food artisans all over, Georgia is graciously offering two copies of her book to two lucky readers. I dare say lucky because you will want to get on a road trip and visit them all after reading this book! All you have to do to win one of two copies of Food Heroes by Georgia Pellegrini is to leave a comment on this post between today Tuesday November 2nd and Sunday November 7th. One entry per person, no anonymous. That's it...

I monitor comments manually and I am going out of town for the rest of the week so if you don't see your comment right away, give me at least 48 hrs before emailing me about it.

Where am I going? I am heading to Indiana to photograph Caitlin's, from Engineer Baker, wedding. It's my wedding present to her and J and after our engagement session here this summer, I could not be more excited. I took the week to be with them and give her some bridal shots, document the making of the wedding cakes (yes....she's doing her own wedding cakes), the rehearsal dinner and of course the ceremony. Those lovebirds are so adorable together...I will try my best to post snapshots!

Fiadone


Fiadone, adapted from "Fromages Frais Maison" by Cathy Ytak

Serves 6-9

1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup drained faisselle or ricotta cheese

Line an 8x8-inch sqaure pan with parchment paper, butter lightly and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375F and position a rack in the middle.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the eggs until pale. Add the lemon zest, cornstarch and salt and whisk until blended. Add the drained cheese and whisk well.
Pour into your prepared pan, place into the oven and lower the heat to 350F. Bake for 45 minutes. The cake does not rise, it gets dark around the edges and a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before sharing.

To make faisselle without the traditional molds (what I do at home):

Heat up 4 cups of raw milk or whole milk (cow or goat) and 1 cup of Greek yogurt (full fat) into a large saucepan until the mixture reaches 30C.
In the meantime, place 6 drops of rennet (found at healthfood stores) in the bottom of a large, super clean, bowl.
Once the milk mixture has reached proper temperature, slowly pour it into the bowl with the rennet. Give one turn with a wooden spoon and let sit.
Do not move your bowl or stir again. Leave it alone for a least 6 hours. Very carefully transfer to the fridge. Try not to shake and move the bowl too much to prevent the curds from breaking lose before they are ready.
After another 4-6 hours, the faisselle is ready to be broken into and to be drained to the consistency that you prefer.

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