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white nectarines

Comforting Recipes: Quinoa, Watermelon & Feta Salad, Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart, Peach & Nectarine Granita

Quinoa, Watermelon & Feta Salad


We’re back home. Everything and everyone is getting back to normal. Groceries, laundry, walks with the pups. And yet, everything’s different. Every move taken and every thing said is tinted with a veil of deep sadness and compassion.

As some of you may have learned, one wonderfully kind and talented food blogger, Jennifer Perillo, lost her husband suddenly this past weekend. I did not know Jennifer well. We had met briefly at several conferences in the past. We were Twitter and Facebook friends. We did not live close. We did not email. We did not talk on the phone. Yet, if I could wrap my arms around her today and hope it helped a little, I would.

Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart


Over the year, I have come to deal with the fact that I don’t care that much of August. I have a love-hate relationship with August actually. My brother passed away in August. My grandmother too. It’s my mother’s birthday in August. And my grandfather’s too. He’s 101 this year by the way. Talk about witnessing life and mortality.

I am finally ok with August being a crappy month for myself. I hate, hate, hate the fact that now it will be a difficult time for Jenny and her daughters. I, and others who have lost dear ones, know the journey ahead. And we hurt inside for Jenny and her daughters already. How to make it better? How to make it easier?

Peaches


Just like finding a few dishes prepared for you when you come back from travels, or finding the fridge a little fuller than when you left. Just like noticing a full basket of fruits on the counter and a "welcome home" note; we can be there for Jennifer and her family just the same.

Those little gestures mentioned above done by my mother in law right before we walked in the door, were immensely appreciated and resonated deeply within us. Caring for one another does is not about climbing the highest peaks or diving the deepest sea. Little gestures. A meal. A note. A walk. A hug. Expressing respect. And compassion.

Quinoa, Feta and Watermelon Salad


When I went back home to my brother’s funerals, I came back to many cards of condolences, many phone calls and texts. I also had many friends drop by with a bite to eat. They knew food was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to disappear. I was numb. But mechanically, I ate the dishes they brought over. It was sustenance. I let Bill rocked me too sleep many many nights. It was a necessity. I still sleep as little now as I did then.

For weeks, life was on auto-pilot but I do remember the comfort of sharing memories with people who came over with a giant green salad or a pint of sorbet. I remember those moments gently pulled me out of this quiet space I had made for weeks. The comfort of my neighbor Camille’s voice as she scooped her famous peach granita into little cups for us and her kids. The warmth of the oven touching my cheeks as I opened it to retrieve the first tart I had made since…since Thierry had left us.

Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart


Normalcy mixed with extraordinary circumstances. Jennifer and her family are going through this as I write it. They need us, our thoughts, prayers and memories of them for those who knew them. They need them now but they will need them months and years form now. Thankfully, and because the food community and humanity in general is pretty damn grand, reaching out to them is already happening.

Erika from Ivory Hut, who went through her own tragedy last year, losing everything in a house fire, is gathering the troops to help out. A care package program is being organized for those who are not in Jennifer’s area so a little piece of love and care can be delivered now and for months to come right to her doorstep. Locals are also organizing a relief effort to show her that not only we care but we are here for her.

White Nectarines


To get more details and to lend a hand and a comforting gesture, please email Erika at erika@ivoryhut.com

My heart is heavy for the Perillos right now. But it is also full of hope. I know there will be many a smiles in their future even only through the solace of your thoughts and words for them.

When someone around Bill and myself is going through tough times and could use a night off, we volunteer to take care of their kids, their pups or we just drop off a collection of dvds and a good meal. It’s small compared to the void we cannot fill but it’s a start. Food I can do. Which is why I am sharing three recipes (click on "continue for recipes" that are good options to bring to someone who might need a little comfort and a lot of hugs.

Peach & Nectarine Granita


This post is dedicated to Mikey, Jennifer and their daughters. We don’t know each other all that well, but I really wish I could change your August. Now and forever.

Please read this.

Quinoa, Watermelon and Feta Salad:

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

When it comes to food and comforting friends with a little something to nosh on, I always gravitate towards dishes that can easily last a few days and only get better with a bit of time. Lately, we have been feasting on bowls after bowls of Quinoa, Watermelon and Feta Salad many days in a row. Sometimes with a poached egg on top. In the heat of the summer, this salad is not only healthy and light but also super refreshing.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 cup watermelon, rind removed and cut into small cubes
2 oz feta, crumbled
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped thin
1/3 cup loosely packed mint, chopped thin
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring the quinoa and water to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot halfway and cook until the water is completely absorbed and the quinoa is translucent (about 20 minutes). Let cool completely.
When the quinoa is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and fold carefully. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Roasted Red Pepper & Ricotta Tart:

Serves 4 as a light main dish.

Another dish that I always find easy to fix, transport and leave in someone’s fridge or freezer for them to reheat easily and quickly is a gluten free Roasted Pepper & Ricotta Tart. Accompanied by a green salad and you have something satisfying and nourishing. A little balm for the heart. And the belly.

Ingredients:

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (or pinch red pepper flakes)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3 egg yolks (save one white for the filling)
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) potato flour
(or 1.5 cups of all purpose flour if not using gf flours)

For the filling:
3 to 4 bell peppers of various colors (red, yellow, orange)
1 cup ricotta
1 egg white
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter, piment 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 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.
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 preferred tart pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
You can freeze the dough for up to 3 months and prepare it up to 4 days in advance.

Prepare the filling:
Method 1:
Preheat the oven to 400F and then roast the peppers until their skin turn black, remove from the oven, place then in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them cool completely. Remove the plastic, and peel the skin right off the pepper, seed them too and cut them in halves or at least fairly large pieces.

Method 2:
Blacken the skin of the peppers over an open flame such as a gas stove or grill. Place then in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them cool completely. Remove the plastic, and peel the skin right off the pepper, seed them too and cut them in halves or at least fairly large pieces.

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, egg white, salt and pepper. Layer at the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Layer the roasted pepper pieces on top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

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Peach and Nectarine Granita:

Makes enough for 8

Since it’s August, and it’s still mostly to very warm just about anywhere, I got to say that the most comforting thing for me and many others I know, is still to dig my spoon in soft soothing ice cream. Or sorbet. Or granita. In this case, I was pressed to use the four peaches and nectarines we still had from our trip to the market before heading down to Florida. So easy to make and since it’s stored in the freezer, it’ll be there anytime you need a little cooling treat.

Ingredients:
2 peaches, skin and pit removed
2 nectarines, skin and pit removed
1/4 cup honey
juice of one lemon
1 cup Greek yogurt or creme fraiche

Directions:
In a food processor, puree all the ingredients together. Place in a large baking dish and freeze. After two hours, run a fork along the length of the dish, breaking up the fruit mixture into a granita. Repeat the process every hour or so for about 4-5 times until the mixture is completely frozen but you get a shaved ice consistency all the way through. We like ours chunky but the more times you run your fork in the mixture, the thinner the shavings will be.

Summer Fare: White Nectarines Pineapple Sage Galette, Chanterelles Tartines & Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh

White Nectarines Galette


Don’t judge but a slice of this white nectarine galette has ben breakfast for the past two days. Tomorrow also. Even though we are taking a road trip cross country, B. requested I’d pack the galette along for the ride. I am not that interested in breakfast usually. Unless there is pie. Or eggs and bacon. These would seriously get me in trouble. As a gourmande through and through, I’d happily sit down and cut myself a not-so-shy piece of pie if you’d let me. Especially when filled with juicy white nectarines from the farmers market.

White Nectarines


The moment I took this one out of the oven, I made another one. Certain that we would appreciate waking up to share a piece while sipping our coffees. We are indeed on the road, heading to The Pionneer Woman’s Ranch. The macaron and photo workshop weekend is finally here! And well, instead of spending time in airport, airplanes and muttering over missed flights and too short connections, we decided to pack up the van and take a littlelong trip out West.

White Nectarine Galette


I did leave a few goodies and cookies for the house sitter but not this pie. Nor the leftover sautéed chanterelles we shared for lunch under the shade of a huge oak tree in the middle of nowhere Alabama. Nor did I leave the couple of servings of the quinoa and fig tabouleh our gluttonous selves could not finish the night before we left. All three were packed up and enjoyed quietly. And well.

Chanterelles


It’s been ages since Bill and I went on a long road trip together and when I mentioned the trip to Ree he turned to me with a big bright smile “I am free that week! Let’s just get in the car and see the country!”. I gotta love his enthusiasm because if you know me, you also know that I fall asleep the minute I get in the car. There is something with enclosed spaces that make me go “ka-plunk” asleep. I feel terrible about it. Really!

Chanterelle tartines


There is nothing I enjoy more than having the time to catch up with Bill as we pass through towns along this big vast American soil. I just love this place. Its complexities and diversity. Its textures and personas. So far, I am doing good on this trip. Proof is that I am writing this as he drives. We have been able to catch up on family stories as we drove through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and now Mississippi.

Chanterelle Tartines


We just enjoy those rare moments now when both our schedules allow for some free time together. What can I say… Fourteen years have passed since our first excursion together and we still dig just being with the other. In the moment. And I want to believe it’s not only because of the delicious foods I pack up when we head out.

garlic


These four recipes are perfect for a picnic, on the side of the road, at the local park or even on a hot day at the beach. They pack easy and well and last a while since they are better at room temperature. As I was preparing them, I wanted nothing less than to set aside some time to pull out a blanket in the backyard and have an impromptu picnic by the creek. But there was more cooking to be done before heading out!

Chanterelle tartines


When Jason at the market said he’d have freshly picked chanterelles, I literally jumped in my seat. My mind going only in one direction. Chanterelles sauteed in butter with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Served on toast with a sliver of pecorino. That’s all I could think about. This is by far my favorite way to enjoy wild mushrooms.

Tomato Zucchini Salad


This salad of heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini and feta is actually a take on a salad I ate while in Salt Lake City during a pot luck. The original version featured zucchini, sliced thin, with feta, dill and a drizzle of olive oil. I loved the combo so much that I started my own riff on it as soon as I got home. My advice? Make more than what you think you will need. You’ll eat it all. And more!

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh


The quinoa and fig tabouleh is an interpretation of a recipe from Elle a Table. I was intrigued by adding figs to a savory grain salad. Figs and savory are opposites and harmonious at the same time. Such a perfect fruit to pair up with tomatoes, mint and lots lemon juice! We are full blown in fig season down here and I can’t stop filling my basket with them.

Figs

Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh


I think the most doubting soul that the combo would work was Bill but as soon as I was done taking those pictures, I handed him a spoonful and before I knew it, I was almost prying the bowl from his hands so we would have some left for dinner! The tabouleh also works great with millet or other whole grains.

Galette


I will try to post some pictures and updates of the weekend on the ranch as soon as I get back, if not sooner! Have a great rest of the week!

White Nectarine Galette:

Makes one 6-inch galettes

Ingredients:
For the crust (pate brisee)
2/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup superfine white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
(or you can use 1&1/4 cup all purpose flour instead of the 3 flours mentioned above)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
8 tablespoons butter, very cold and cut in 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup ice water
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water (to brush on the top crust)
Or milk to add some color to the crust
chopped nuts for topping (optional)

For the filling:
4 small white nectarines
1 tablespoon pineapple sage, freshly chopped (or mint, lemon thyme, lemon balm, etc…)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions:
Prepare the crust
In a large bowl, mix together the millet, rice and sorghum flour. Add the powdered sugar and mix. Add the cold butter and mix with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten into a disk in between your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes (you can make it the day before too).

In the meantime, prepare the fruit:
Cut the nectarines in half and remove the pits. Cut each half in thin slices. Mix them together in a large bowl with the herb, honey and cornstarch. Let stand 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
When ready to assemble, roll the dough in between sheets of plastic to about 1/8-inch thick to make a rough 9 to 10-inch circle. Place the nectarine slices inside that circle. Bring the edges over the fruit to create a 2-inch border or so and repeat the procedure until a complete border is created. Brush with the egg wash or some milk if desired (adds color to the crust), sprinkle with nuts with desired, and bake for about 30 minutes.

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Chanterelle Tartines:
For 2 hungry people

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon butter
half a pound fresh chanterelles, cleaned of dirt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf pasley
salt and pepper
thin slices of pecorino or other hard fragrant cheese.
Freshly toasted whole grain bread

Instructions:
In a large sautee pan set over medium high heat, melt the butter until it sizzles. Add the mushrooms, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and cook until nicely colored, about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool slightly and spoon a bit of that mixture onto pieces of toast with a little sliver of cheese. Serve warm.

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Tomato Zucchini and Feta Salad:

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Ingredients:
3 tomatoes (heirloom if you can), cut into small cubes
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, shaved
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
salt, pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:
Combine all the ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before serving so all the flavors have time to meld together.
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Quinoa and Fig Tabouleh, adapted from Elle A Table:

Serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:
1.5 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
6 large figs or 10 small ones, diced
3 tomatoes (heirloom if possible), diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts included
1/3 cup to 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint
juice of two lemons
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:
In a large pot, bring the quinoa and water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from the heat, fluff with a for and place in a large bowl to cool for 20 minutes.
Add the figs, tomatoes, green onions, mint, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and the oil. Let sit at room temperature for another 20 minutes and refrigerate after that if not consumed right away.