Prunesssssssssss. Delicious, lovely prunes!
Oddly it's part of one of my favorite deserts from the legendary Brooklyn/NYC restaurant, Frankie's: Wine Stewed Prunes with Mascarpone. The prunes are simmered away to melty, tender notingness, seasoned with cinnamon and red wine. Served on top of whipped mascarpone, it's a symphony (yeah, a bit of hyperbole, but it's that good!) of texture and flavor. Being the middle of summer, stewed prunes won't win a lot of friends, so my mind went to what was seasonal: plums. Inky black, swollen with juice, and that gorgeous combination of sweet sweet flesh and bitter skin. I figured roasting them in their own juices with a touch of butter and sugar would be a nice compromise. Enjoy!
6 ripe plums, halved and pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons butter
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups mascarpone
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the plum halves face up on a silicon pad on a baking sheet. Add 1/2 a tsp of butter on top of each half and sprinkle them with sugar and orange zest. Roast the plums for 15 minutes, or until soft with the juices running. Turn up the broiler for a minute or two, just to crisp up the edges a bit. Meanwhile, whisk the mascarpone to get it soft and smooth. Dollop it onto a small plate. Add three halves of plums to the mascarpone, spoon on a bit of the juices in the pan, and top with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of orange zest. Enjoy!
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I really struggled naming this, because it's essentially a tarte tatin, but without the tatin. So is it a cherry tarte? No, that's pretentious looking and doesn't speak to the caramel-ly, upside down-y situation at hand. So, cherry upside down tart. It's, um, declarative? In a "yes, that's what it is" kind of way.
Does it matter? Not really, because it tastes awesome. And it's easy. Really, really easy. You halve and pit some cherries, caramelize some butter and sugar, pop a pie crust on it and let it do it's thing. Out comes a wallop of rich, caramelized cherry flavor.
For disclosure: I hate cherries. Or, I thought I did. That syrupy sweet/tart thing, the alien red of maraschinos. Not. A. Fan. So with summer upon me and cherries teaming from baskets at the farmer's market, I decided to stop whining and do something about my prejudice. I tasted around and found the most delicious cherries at the market, a perfect balance of acid and sugar (you want a lot of both for flavorful baking) and a firm enough texture to hold up to the tarte tatin process. I added butter and sugar, which improves everything, and a dollop of whipped cream. Still warm from the oven, the caramel and cherry juice created a rich, thick sauce that I would drip on anything, it's that good. Prejudice solved! Guess who's loving cherries.
So for a perfect summer dessert that you can leave hanging around the kitchen all afternoon (but be careful, people will steal caramelized cherries off the top, they're just that alluring), try the cherry upside down tart. Delicious, simple, and intensely cherry. Enjoy!
1 1/2 pounds cherries, halved and pitted
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 recipe pie crust, rolled out to 1/8 inch thick.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the butter and sugar over medium heat until it's a pale caramel color (about 10 minutes). Take it off the heat and add the vanilla, whisking to combine. Pour it into a pie dish (it's ok if the butter separates, it'll get absorbed into the cherries). Add the cherries (it should just crest over the pie dish) and cover with the pie dough and trim the edges so they're only an inch long. Roll the dough neatly into the dish. Put in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cherries are bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Bring to room temp (if you can wait) and flip onto a serving dish. Served with whipped cream. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
So I've been super flakey on this whole blog posting thing, huh? Kind of sporadic, a little on the random side, but I have a really good reason for it.
But it's a bit of a secret, so I'll keep it under my hat for a few weeks. CLIFFHANGER!
Anyway, on to the good part: Summer Crostini. It's summer (or June gloom if you're anywhere near LA) which means the farmer's market is a little more spectacular than usual. At the start of the season there's an amazing cross section of spring/summer, and those odd outliers that pop up much too early or cling on for dear life through the seasons.
I was planning on re-making a crostini I put together for my aunt's birthday weekend in Palm Springs, a simple combination of fava beans, roasted cherry tomatoes, some basil, and burrata, because burrata makes everything better.
I wander through the market this morning expecting to buy just that, but once I pass the stone fruit stalls I black out and don't come out of my food fog until I'm missing $30 and have 6 pounds of nectarines, plums, and peaches weighing me down. My list is wedged underneath a bag of lansen cherries, so what's a girl to do? Common sense is flung to the wind and I'm buying up whatever looks the most crostini worthy.
I come home and dump out my produce on the counter:
Kettle River Garlic
Brown Turkey Figs
Well then. Guess I'm making a ton of crostini. Not a problem.
Here's what I came up with:
Roasted Figs over Ricotta with Balsamic Vinegar
Sauteed Swiss Chard with Prosciutto and Gruyere (It's a fancy version of my favorite Ham and Cheese Sandwich)
Fava Beans and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes over Burrata with Basil
Sauteed Porcini Mushroom with Thyme, Jimenez Sherry Vinegar, and Shallot over Roasted Garlic
None of these take more than 20 minutes of active time to put together. The longest is roasting the garlic(45 minutes) but I did that while catching up on Game of Thrones. Added bonus, all of the ingredients can be made ahead of time and left in the fridge or on the counter, so you can whip them up easily right before you're ready to nosh. Enjoy!
Roasted Fig and Ricotta Crostini with Balsamic Vinegar
This simple combination makes the most of what the ingredients have to offer: sweet earthiness, rich creaminess, and a pop of pungency to brighten it up.
For 6 crostini
5 figs (I used brown turkey)
3/4 cup fresh ricotta
6 slices Italian bread or Baguette
Salt and Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzling
Pre Heat your oven to 350 F. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the center rack, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and toasted. Turn the oven up to 400 F. Slice the figs into quarters and place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the figs for about 20 minutes, or until bursting and colored. Smooth 2 tablespoons of ricotta onto each crostini (the bread) and top with 3-4 pieces of fig. Grind a little pepper over it and drizzle with Balsamic. Enjoy!
Sauteed Mushroom Crostini with Roasted Garlic, Jimenez Sherry Vinegar, and Truffle Oil
Earthy, almost meaty, mushrooms with sweet roasted garlic, the pungent acidity of vinegar and that wow factor of truffle oil makes this vegetarian option a slam dunk for mushroom lovers.
For 6 crostini
1 pound mushrooms, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I used porcini)
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbl Jimenez Sherry Vinegar
6 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Pre Heat your oven to 350 F. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the center rack, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and toasted. Turn the oven up to 400 F. In a saute pan over a medium flame, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the shallot. Add the mushrooms and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are browned and just getting soft. Add the thyme and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and drizzle with a little truffle oil (a little goes a long way). In the meantime, wrap the peeled garlic in aluminum foil with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until soft and a deep golden brown. Smear a roasted clove on the crostini (the toast bread) and pile with mushrooms. Finish with a few fresh thyme leaves. Enjoy!
The Fancy Ham and Cheese: Sauteed Swiss Chard with Prosciutto and Gruyere
Something about this earthy, hearty combination with the pop of parsley makes this crostini the perfect snack. Really knock your socks off by putting these ingredients on a crossant and toasting it. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Makes 6 Crostini
1 bunch swiss chard, chopped into 1/4 wide pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
6 slices of prosciutto
6 thin slices of gruyere
1 tbl parsley leaves
Salt and Pepper
Pre Heat your oven to 350 F. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the center rack, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and toasted. In a saute pan over a medium flame, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the swiss chard with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 2 minutes, or until just wilted, and add the garlic, cooking for a few minutes more. Pile the swiss chard onto the crostini (the toasted bread) and add the slice of prosciutto and cheese. Top with a few parsley leaves. Enjoy!
Fava Bean and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini with Burrata and Basil
Light, simple, and the perfect transition dish into summer. Plus, BURRATA!
Makes 6 crostini
1/2 lb burrata (one ball), cut into 6 slices
1/2 lb fresh fava beans, shelled (if they're hard to hunt down, fresh peas would also work)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons basil, finely julienned
Salt and Pepper
Pre Heat your oven to 350 F. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and put on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the center rack, flip, and bake for another 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and toasted. Turn the oven up to 400 F. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet with a silicon pad or parchment, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 20 minutes, or until bursting and colored. Meanwhile, boil a small pot of well salted water and prepare a small ice bath. Add the favas to the water and cook for about 90 seconds, until they bob to the top. Immerse them int o the ice bath and peel the rubbery outershell away. Smooth a slice of burrata onto each crostini (the bread) and top with about 10 favas and six cherry tomato halves. Whatever feels right. Grind a little pepper over it, drizzle with olive oil, and top with the basil. Enjoy!