Month: June 2015

The Meal

This past weekend I did a little shopping at a couple of local farmers’ markets, and pairing some of my purchases with pantry staples and fresh herbs from our square-foot garden, I cobbled together the meal I am about to share with you.

At the market I bought early cherry tomatoes (not so great yet), green and yellow summer beans, spring onions, and fresh-picked cherries. From the pantry I used rabbit hindquarters, a mix of dried wild mushrooms, preserved lemon, fresh chèvre, and a few other staples to bring the meal together.

The Meal
Braised Rabbit
Wild Mushroom Stew
Long-Cooked Summer Beans
Cherries in Vermouth Syrup with Fresh Chèvre

Braised Rabbit

Ingredients
4 rabbit hindquarters
2 medium carrots, rough chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, rough chopped
1 spring onion, white bulb only, rough chopped
4 large whole garlic cloves
1-1/2 cups water plus 1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
4 tablespoons butter
Herb bundle plus parsley stems (in this recipe the herbs were parsley, lemon balm, and oregano, wrapped in shiso leaves)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Rabbit mise en place

Rabbit mise en place

Method
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof roasting pan with a lid. Once the oil is hot, salt and pepper and sear the rabbit quarters until browned on both sides, tending and turning so as not to burn or allow to stick, approximately 15 minutes. Remove rabbit to a plate and tent to keep warm.

Add the soffritto (vegetable mix) to the same pan, more olive oil, salt and pepper and sauté, turning to coat and combine until the they begin to soften and lightly color.

Browning the rabbit

Browning the rabbit

Once the soffritto is ready, add the rabbit back to the pan, pour the water and wine or vermouth around, add the herb bouquet and the butter. Cover the pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Check to determine if the sauce has become too thick, add another 1/2 cup liquid if required, otherwise cover and braise another 25 minutes.

Once braising is done, remove the pan from the oven and keep warm, while assembling the rest of the meal.

Soffritto sauté

Soffritto sauté

The braise

The braise

 

Mixed Wild Mushroom Stew

This dish can be prepared with all fresh wild mushrooms if available, or a mix of fresh and dried. The dried mushrooms will first have to be refreshed by soaking in warm water or stock until they are softened, then the soaking liquid is strained to remove any dirt or grit accumulated; it then can be used as the base for the stew broth.

The finished dish makes a fine side vegetable, as it was in this meal, however any leftovers can be pulsed in a food processor and used to prepare a robust pasta sauce, or a hearty addition to risotto, or even added to a stuffing mix for either a roast chicken or a roulade of pork tenderloin tied and finished on the grill.

With this recipe I used all dried mushrooms which I always have on hand. The mix I included was a small sampling of each of the following mushrooms to yield 2-1/2 cups of dried: Black Trumpet, Chanterelle, Lobster, Matsutake, Morel, Oyster, Porcini, Shiitake, and Woodear. The recipe is very flexible in that you can mix and match to make your own mushroom combination to satisfy your personal taste. Part of what makes cooking fun!

Ingredients
2 lbs fresh mushrooms or 2-1/2 cups dried
2 cups water or stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 onion (with this recipe I used the large green end of the spring onion), chopped fine
2 to 3 garlic cloves, sliced fine
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (with this recipe I quartered the cherry tomatoes from the farm market)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 preserved lemon rind, chopped fine
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons butter melted
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs (in this recipe I made a bouquet of lemon balm, oregano, dill flowers, and parsley stems, wrapped in shiso leaves, plus minced parsley to finish)
Truffle puree or truffle oil (optional)

Mushroom mise en place

Mushroom mise en place

Method
Clean, prep, and slice the mushrooms if using fresh, saving the stems to poach in the water or stock to make the stew broth. Or if using dried, soak in 2 cups of water or stock until softened. Squeeze out all the liquid and set aside, while straining the soaking liquid as previously described and set aside.

Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot with a lid. Once the oil is warmed, add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften. Next add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper, and one cup of the broth, stirring to combine and continue the sauté until the tomatoes soften and blend into the broth. Next add the mushroom mix, preserved lemon, herb bundle, and remaining broth, again stirring to combine and continue to sauté.

Mushroom soffritto sauté

Mushroom soffritto sauté

In a small sauté pan melt the butter and whisk with the flour or cornstarch to form a light roux. Add the roux to the mushrooms along with the minced parsley. Mix to combine, check the seasoning and if using, add a small amount of truffle puree or drizzle a small amount of truffle oil over. Cover the pot and allow to simmer over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes and then keep warm while assembling the rest of the meal.

Mushroom stew base

Mushroom stew base

Mushrooms added to base

Mushrooms added to base

Long-Cooked Summer Beans

Summer green beans, also known as string beans, are available at the markets starting in the early summer season right through the fall. They can also be found in both yellow and purple varieties, which can yield a very festive and colorful dish when using all three.

This variety of seasonal beans is different from the slender French haricots vert, which lend themselves to quick cooking, best served cold in salads or as a warm side or underlay in other dishes. The beans in this recipe are generally thicker and fatter than the haricots vert variety and are enhanced by the long slow cooking.

Different liquids can be used for the braise: water, stock, wine, a combination of those or even tomato sauce. The proportions can be easily scaled up depending upon how many will be served. This recipe works well for 2 people.

Ingredients
12 green beans plus 12 yellow beans
1 medium sweet onion or white bulb from a spring onion, thinly sliced
1 cup (approximately 12) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs (in this recipe I used parsley, basil, lemon balm, and thyme)

Stewed beans mise en place

Stewed beans mise en place

Method
Clean and trim the stem ends from the beans.

Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot with a lid. Once the oil is warmed, add the onion and tomatoes, sauté until they begin to soften and the onions lightly color.

Next add the beans, wine or vermouth, and salt and pepper to the sauté, cover, and allow the beans and tomatoes to soften.

Finally, once the beans and the tomatoes are fork tender and softened, sprinkle the fresh herbs, cover again, and reduce the heat, allowing the vegetable mix to gently simmer until ready to plate.

Sweat onion and tomatoes

Sweat onion and tomatoes

Add beans to the stew

Add beans to the stew

Cherries in Vermouth Syrup over Fresh Chèvre

Ingredients
1 to 1-1/2 cups sweet cherries (depending upon size), stemmed but not pitted
1 cup sweet vermouth
3 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Plain fresh chèvre cheese

Dessert mise en place

Dessert mise en place

Method
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Continue to simmer until the cherries are soft. Remove the cherries to cool and continue to reduce the remaining liquid until reaching a syrup consistency. Pour the syrup over the cherries and allow to cool completely.

Slice a round of fresh chèvre and spoon the cherries and syrup around. That’s it—couldn’t be simpler!

You can choose to prepare these recipes as a complete meal, or try the recipes individually and prepare your own version. I’d enjoy hearing from you, so let me know what you finally decide. Here is a look at the complete meal plated and ready to serve.

Cherries in vermouth

Cherries in vermouth

Plated

Plated

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Green Tart

I was a little distracted this past week which is why you haven’t heard from me since early June. Our granddaughter was visiting—having traveled solo from LA—to spend a week with us running around Philadelphia, DC, and NYC, as well as locally. She was excited about helping “Gramps” in the kitchen when she could and sipping a thimble full of wine when we dined at home. A good time was had by all.

Just prior to her arrival I made a pass through a couple of farm markets to stock up, knowing ahead of time a few of the dishes she wanted to test drive, as well as having three flavors of homemade ice cream at the ready. There is always an abundance of fresh greens of all kinds during the summer season and I happened to find radishes and beets, which were just picked, and as such the leafy green tops were just perfect for a savory tart. So that is what this post will be about, a savory green tart, a dish I prepare all year long, using seasonal greens at their best. For example: beet greens; kale varieties; squash leaves, blossoms, and tendrils; arugula; chards; upland cress and watercress.

For those of you who have been reading these posts for a while, I have shared recipes for two such tarts already—last December 17 was the Spinach Tart where I introduced my go-to olive oil tart shell, and again on January 2 where the Four-Onion Tart was featured. For any of you who did not see either of those posts and are interested in getting the full details and photos about how to prepare the tart shell as well as the tart itself, simply search the archives on this blog.

Meanwhile, the finished tart shell awaiting the filling:

Olive oil tart shell

Olive oil tart shell

Savory Green Tart (Beet and Radish Greens)

Some preparation notes:

  • In this tart recipe, beet and radish greens were combined, however most any greens would work. The recipe is flexibility and the option to explore whatever greens look good in the market at the time and what flavor combinations you prefer. And you are not restricted to using only two.
  • Cheese, another ingredient, again allows a great deal of flexibility and flavor combinations. I recommend using a cheese that melts well and also adds an overall smoky note to the flavor. In this recipe a combination of Asiago and Caciocavallo were used.
  • Eggs are always used to make the custard base and bind the filling during the baking. In this recipe I happened to have duck eggs, which I found in a farmers’ market so I chose them instead of chicken eggs. The duck eggs are a bit larger than the standard large chicken egg, the yolk is a deeper yellow color, the flavor richer, and the shell just a bit harder, so keep that in mind when cracking them. However, chicken eggs are perfectly fine.
  • The best time to slice the finished tart is when it has cooled to room temperature. This tart is best served at room temperature or warmed in a low-temperature oven for several minutes. If served cold the flavors will be muted. It can be served as a side vegetable, or as a main course accompanied by a simple salad of your choice.
  • The tart shell recipe does not require prebaking.

Ingredients
1 large spring onion (white and green parts); or large sweet onion, rough chopped
3 large garlic cloves; peeled and chopped
Greens from 1 bunch of beets and 1 bunch of radishes; cleaned, large woody stems removed, leaves and remaining stems rough chopped
1/2 bunch parsley; leaves pulled from stems and left whole, stems minced
4 large eggs
1/4 cup Half & Half or light cream
1-1/2 cups grated cheese; separated
Pepper and bread crumbs for topping

Method
Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil is heated add the onion and garlic, mix to combine and coat, and sauté until softened.

Next add the prepared greens and parsley, mix to combine, and sauté just until the greens wilt. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

Onion and garlic sauté

Onion and garlic sauté

Greens added to sauté

Greens added to sauté

In a large work bowl add the eggs and cream and using a whisk, whip to combine. Once the sauté is cool, fold it into the egg mixture along with 1 cup of the grated cheese, mixing until completely combined.

Tart filling

Tart filling

Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell, spreading evenly. It will not fill the shell all the way to the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese over the filling and lightly sprinkle some bread crumbs and pepper over the cheese to finish the topping.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Set the tart in a preheated 325-degree oven and bake for 1 hour or until the top is firm and the crust on the tart shell is lightly browned. That’s all there is to it!

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Would enjoy hearing about your savory tart explorations, what combination of greens you chose and what cheeses you might have introduced. I am always looking for new ways to embellish this staple in my kitchen.

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