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Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup & Cauliflower Prosciutto Flatbread

Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup


Barely home from Washington, D.C that we are repacking and heading out tomorrow (insanely early) morning for Seattle. Yep. It’s the Summer of packed crazy but absolutely delicious adventures. And yes also to the fact that I will probably end up using (or abusing) every superlative adjectives I know along the way.

Going to Seattle for work is about as stressful as a week by a blue lagoon. Whether it is for a shoot or in this instance a workshop I am teaching with Clare Barboza and Becky Selengut, I can tell you that the conversations, good meals and bottomless glasses of wine make up for the brain power exhaustion and relative d├ępaysement. I am ok with being tired, being away and making a little home away from home, mentally and physically. The people, the jobs, the things I learn, the things I pass on. It keeps me energized.

Cauliflower & Prosciutto Flatbread


If asked, I doubt that my fridge and pantry would agree to my definition of a life well balanced. We have kept the minimum of supplies around to avoid any spoilage and waste. Nothing irks me more than wasting food because of ill planning or "voir plus grand que son estomac" (seeing larger than one’s appetite). I do leave a few things for the house sitters to nibble on but not enough to warrant big trips to the grocery store.

A miscalculation of the meals we would eat at home this weekend created a surplus of vegetables and a quick scramble to use them in interesting ways while keeping up with the semi plan we have going on. I have no idea how my two cucumbers turned into four from grocery list to grocery cart but I was very glad they did after taking the first couple of sips from the Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup they contributed to.

Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup


Refreshing, creamy and light, this soup is going to be on heavy rotation as soon as we come back from Seattle. I have a real fondness for chilled cucumber soup. Or rather a fond nostalgia for the dish. When I first moved Charleston, my roomate at the time took me to a (now closed) French inspired bistro on Market street that served one of the best Cucumber Dill Yogurt soup I had ever had. Wait, the only had I had ever had so far!

I tried many times to recreate the soup but there was always something missing. Probably the moment more than the recipe and ingredients. I decided that rather than driving my senses crazy, I’d make a completely different version. One we could equally love and come back to. After a few tries, this is the one we settled on. The base rarely varies but the toppings change depending on what’s around. Crumbled feta, sliced beets, radishes, herbs, a drizzle of truffle or avocado oil, lemon zest,… the possibilities are indeed endless.

Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup With Cauliflower & Prosciutto Flatbread


I admit, I would have never thought about putting cauliflower on flatbread had it not been for the Winter issue of Donna Hay magazine a couple of months ago. I read over the recipe, bookmarked it in a far corner of my brain, bought cauliflower and prosciutto and went about my business. And completely forgot about it all. Until yesterday that I was making dinner and the common "oops…not enough days, too many recipes to try" moment took place.

I took the elements of the original recipe, minus the cheese, and turned them in a crispy thin flatbread that was the perfect match to grilled shrimp and a big fennel, arugula salad with crunchy leftover cauliflower. Simple, light and one more way to sneak in vegetables into the meal. Made me want to try the cheesy version when we get back in town next week.

Off to (re) pack!

Chilled Cucumber & Avocado Soup



Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup:

Makes enough for 4 as a main course

Ingredients:
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped (about 1 to 1/2 pounds)
1/2 medium avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 cups sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon each lemon verbena and lemon thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings options: (as many or as little as you desire)
fresh herbs
sliced beets or radishes
feta or goat cheese
shaved parmesan

Directions:
Place all the ingredients for the soup in a blender or food processor and puree until super smooth. I use my Blendtec which makes it extremely smooth in no time. Depending on how silky you want your soup to be, you might have to pass it through a sieve a couple of times.
Refrigerate for about a couple of hours and serve cold.

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Cauliflower & Prosciutto Flatbread:

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
Pizza dough for one 16-inch pizza stone (I use half the recipe of my favorite pizza crust here)
For a gluten free crust, see here
1 to 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cauliflower
4 oz finely chopped prosciutto
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
olive oil
1 tablespoon cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
fresh thyme to garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400F.
With your hands, stretch your dough to a large circle, about one inch wider than the surface of your stone.
Sprinkle the cornmeal over the surface of the stone (do not worry about heating it up as if making pizza). Place your dough over it and form a border with the extra inch of your dough.
Scatter evenly the cauliflower, prosciutto and parmesan over it. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is golden brown.
Let cool slightly and eat!

Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Tart

Gluten Free Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Tart


Almost a week without posting makes me feel like I am missing out on all the fun. Can’t believe February is over and gone. Makes me wonder why so much always gets packed into such a short month but I am relieved that all the projects have been completed and deadlines met. So, "Hello March! Let’s get going!" Yep, this month is definitely another kind of busy, filled with travels, workshops and visits and you can bet I am looking forward to the change of scenery. Oh yes.

Taking small breaks throughout the work day is vital for everyone. You’ve probably noticed it just by peeking your head outside for 10 minutes or taking a walk with a colleague. One thing I find most invigorating is lunch. I can’t do without. I guess it stems directly from my childhood when my mom would pick us from school for lunch. She had nothing against cafeteria meals but she enjoyed taking the time to do it. It was nothing fancy really but breaking away for an hour also meant picking up a new book at the library, getting more stickers at the book store, stopping by the bakery for a treat. A little fun in the middle of a long work day. Always a treat when you are a kid. Or an adult.

Swiss Char, Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Tart


I love a good salad with tons of colorful vegetables, sometimes topped with a hard boiled egg, or two. Soups are another favorite staple but nothing says lunch break more than a savory tart and a side salad to me. Quintessential French bistro food. One that warms my very soul being so far away from home. One that makes me feel all grown up although I have been there for a while. Savory tarts are the perfect vessels to get a good dose of all the food essentials your brain and body need to function properly without too much effort or planning. Once you have the crust, thrown in anything that strikes your fancy or whatever you have on hand. The sky is the limit regarding fillings, spices, herbs, etc…

Funny thing is that in my family a savory tart is also the meal of choice for any exhausted traveler. Whenever we go home, I know our first meal will be my mom’s quiche Lorraine with a salad and my dad’s shallot vinaigrette. Whenever they come visit, there is quiche ready for them to get a quick bite after a long day of travel. How did it come to be this way? I don’t know. It’s tradition. And you don’t mess with tradition. Well at least no this one, ehehe.

Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Tart


I guess you can call this Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto tart a rehearsal of sort for my parents' arrival in two weeks. I finally came up with a savory gluten free crust that I am in love with. Tastes good, bakes good and rolls like a charm. For the filling, I used what I had on hand: a bunch of Swiss chard languishing in the fridge, some goat cheese and prosciutto left over from a tapas night with friends. Next time it might simply be bacon and onion. Who knows…

I can’t believe I’ll be in L.A on Wednesday and Seattle on Sunday! If you are registered for any of the workshops, well, "thank you" in advance and I can’t wait to meet you! There are some tweet-ups/meet-ups being organized as I write this so if you are interested, the best thing is to check my Twitter feed (@SweetTartelette) or any of the (crazy – awesome – fun) gals who will be showing me around town this week: Rachael (@fujimama), Jen (@jenjenk) and Gaby (@WhatsGabyCookin).

Since I know it’s going to be pretty tight to get any major post in and to avoid a major "post travel" blog post, I thought I’d do quick and fun entries throughout the weeks. Capturing the moment. I have never been to any of these cities so I figured it’d be fun to post quick accounts of things that strike me. Landscape, people, food, the macaron and photography workshops, whatever… I am looking forward to it all and everything in between.

Gluten Free Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Tart



Gluten Free Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Tart:
Serves 4

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) tapioca starch
(or 1.5 cups of all purpose flour if not using gf flours)
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 1/2 of a giant sweet Vidalia), sliced thin
1 bunch Swiss chard (red – green rainbow – your choice), washed and patted dry
4-6 slices prosciutto
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 oz (120gr – 180gr) crumbled goat cheese
a few sprigs of thyme

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and mustard on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. (I went with rectangular this time) If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 15-20 minutes until completely done. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days if not using right away or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Prepare the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Heat the oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the Swiss chard and cooked until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. In the same pan, quickly sautee the slices of prosciutto to get them nice and crispy. Remove from the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Layer the onion and Swiss chard at the bottom of the crust and slowly pour the egg mixture over it. Top with slices of prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the tart starts getting golden brown and the custard is cooked. Spinkle with freshly chopped thyme.

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Le P’tit Coin Francais:

Tarte aux Bettes, Chevre et Prosciutto:

Pour 4 a 6 personnes:

Pour la pate:
70gr beurre mou, non sale
1 cc moutarde de Dijon
3 jaunes d’oeuf
pincee de sel
80gr farine de riz brun
60gr farine de millet
30gr farine de sorghum
40gr de farine de tapioca
(ou de 210gr de farine blanche)
1/2 cc de gomme de xantham

Pour la garniture:
2 cs d’huile d’olive
1 oignon moyen, coupe en tranche fine
1 petite bottes de bettes
4-6 tranches de prosciutto
3 oeufs, legerement battus
150ml lait entier
sel, poivre
pincee de muscade fraiche
120gr a 180gr de fromage de chevre emiette
quelques brins de thym

Preparer la pate:
Dans le bol d’un mixer, battez le beurre et la moutarde pendant 2 minutes. Ajoutez les jaunes d’oeufs un a un, tout en melangeant bien apres chaque jaune. Ajoutez les farines sans gluten, le sel et la gomme de xantham. Melangez brievement et verzes le contenu sur un plan de travail. Ramassez en boule et metter au refrigerateur pendant une heure.
Prechauffez le four a 180C et positionnez une plaque au milieu.
Etalez la pate sur un plan de travail legerement farine (farine sans gluten de preference), ou entre deux feuilles de papier sulfurise. Foncez en un plat a tarte (rectangulaire ou rond), mettre une feuille de papier sulfurise dans le fond, et des pois/riz. Faire pre-cuire 10-12 minutes. Sortez la tarte du four et laissez refroidir.

Preparez la garniture:
Prechauffez le four a 180C.
Dans une grande poele a feu moyen, faites revenir l’oignon dans l’huile. Ajoutez les bettes et cuire jusqu’a ce qu’elles apparaissent fanees. Retirez de la poele et faites-y revenir les tranches de prosciutto. Laissez refroidir.
Dans un grand bol, melangez les oeufs, le lait, sel, poivre et la pointe de muscade.
Repartissez les oignons et bettes au fond de la tarte. Versez dessus le melange oeufs/lait, parsemer des tranches de prosciutto et de fromage de chevre. Faites cuire 30-40 minutes. Parsemez de thym frais a la sortie du four.