Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuscan Bean Soup or It Might as Well be Spring

One-pot, no soak Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken

Hot, cold.  Hot, cold.  The weather here is like a menopausal woman.  To be fair, it hasn't been hot.  Except in my house where there's a radiator stuck on high.  According to local legend, it can't be fixed until summer.   Who said?  So when I clean the bathroom upstairs, I turn into a sauna.   That's right, I used the correct pronoun.

Outdoors yesterday, the temperature hit about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.   The Macalester College running club (We live about 4 blocks from "Mac.")  ran by in T-tiny shorts singing,
"We're  having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.  The temperature's rising; it isn't surprising..."
 While I'm the first girl to put on her tee shirt and grill (actually I don't grill outdoors and don't care to learn--that's what Dave is for), I'll always have to admit I adore indoor and cozy cooking.  I like it cold enough to leave the oven on for hours happily braising while I read. ("I'm cooking today.")  Or for a soup to giggle and pop all afternoon on the stove.  I'm the woman Hillary Clinton didn't want to be...I did stay home and bake cookies. Among other things.  So I'm the only person in the Twin Cities who is glad it's still kinda cold.  (It's 67 in Colorado Springs; I've been watching.)  Everyone else is giving their flip flops a test run in the lingering snow while I am snug in my Clarks' boots.  I'll give you this:  my blood is still thickening after 15 years in Colorado where the beautiful weather is a well-kept secret.

What's the pits is that the dogs are so funky dirty stinky from the melting snow-mud that I'd like to drop them off at the groomers and let them live there for the next month.  We've got a dog shower in the basement (no joke) that I guess I'll break down and use, though they'll just be filthy again in ten and my back will hurt.

Dad's in a big meeting on the phone; we have to stay out. Whah.
 All that said (are you tired of that phrase?) I'm still in the mood for homey, warming soups and stews.  Not only because the weather calls for them, but also because they feed us well, healthily and economically.  Who doesn't like to cook once and eat thrice?  Or eat once, freeze and eat once a week for the next two?  Or share like we'll do tonight with a friend.  I'll take some bread to a neighbor who adores bread, too.

Here's the No-Knead Bread I made for the soup.

What's food for if it isn't shared?  Speaking of which, the book TAKE THIS BREAD, by Sara Miles is life-changing (as I mentioned at the end of the last post).  A "radical" conversation about communion, the book is also a lot about food, feeding people, and what that all means to you and me.  In my world (in my heart), we are called to feed one another in many ways...but I believe firmly that we are called to share, eat and love one another because of it.  While there are no atheists in fox holes, there might also be no enemies around a dinner table.  What?  We could toast,
Here's to you.  I hate you.

I don't think so.  Touching bread together is a means of healing.  In many ways.

Here's to this soup; it's something you could easily share.  Don't be afraid.  People love to be invited.  They don't care if you haven't swept (and if they do, they need to get over THAT), but they care that someone is interested enough in them to want to spend an evening --a morning, an afternoon-- with them.  They care that someone loves enough to cook.  A restaurant meal (much the thing now) isn't the same.  To begin with, the restaurant:
  1. is expensive
  2. might not be healthy
  3. wants you gone
  4. wants to have someone else at your table
  5. wants to make more money
  6. doesn't put your love into the food
All right, I'll give you this:  they might.  Many cooks/chefs really want the best for their customers, but just as many simply want it to be nine o'clock. 

Beans, water,  ham hock and starts like this.
 So call a friend(s), throw the place mats on the table, turn on the music, light the candles, pour the wine, and make this soup.  Not in that order.  Some tiny bit of a crunchy salad and a chewy boule or baguette round out the meal and the bread's great for dunking.  A couple of tiny cookies or a small scoop of gelato would be sweet for an ending.    (Wine? I like a Cotes du Rhone here, but you might prefer a light Italian red like a Moltepulciano.) Here's the story in pictures:

Start with a great ham hock.

Cook the beans with onion, rosemary and the ham hock.  No salt.

Remove the hock, add stock, chicken pieces, and veg.

Throw in a couple of tomatoes with the chicken and vegetables; remove to cool, peel easily, and chop.

Chop the rosemary finely this time; you don't want to eat a Christmas tree.

Carefully chop meat from hock.  Remove fat and tendons; check for bones.

Now that's an easy way to peel a tomato.

The chicken, simmered in liquid, is done quickly.  Remove, cool, skin, bone, and shred.

Put it all back in the pot and let her roll. Turn down and simmer. 
 Cook's Note:  No cooking and letting the beans sit for an hour; no overnight soak. You just start cooking the beans for this soup in one pan and add EVERYTHING else in a row.  Total cooking/prep time is 3 hours, perhaps less.  I gave it an extra 30 minutes simmer to come together at the end.  Of course it's great the next day after all the ingredients swam in the same sea, slept in the same bed, washed in the same water, or whatever metaphor floats your boat.

Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken makes 5 qts approximately

1/2-3/4# dried cannellini or northern white bean/navy beans
1 ham hock (I used half a large one)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, divided  (Leave one whole; mince the other.)

3 pieces chicken with bones and skin
1 qt chicken stock, low or no salt
1 c white wine or water
2 firm red tomatoes (or 1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes)
1 c chopped carrots
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
(1/4 c chopped cabbage, 1/4 c chopped green beans, optional-I had them and put them in.)
1/4 c chopped parsley
Kosher salt; freshly ground pepper (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 t pepper)
Several drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce (or a pinch of crushed red pepper or ground cayenne)

1 c fresh spinach leaves

1/2 c Parmesan
Zest of 1 fresh lemon

  1. Bring to a boil beans and 2-3 qts peppered (no salt) water.  Add  ham hock, 1 of the chopped onions, and a whole sprig of rosemary.  (Leave the stem in until soup is done; the leaves will have cooked and become quite tender at the end of 3 hours.) Lower heat, cover partially, and let cook at a low boil for about 1 1/2 hours until beans are becoming tender.  Add some water if beans are not boiling freely.  Remove ham hock, cool, shred (leave out fat and gristle) and return meat to pot.
  2. Add chicken stock, wine or water, 3 pieces of chicken, and all of the vegetables/herbs (including the other chopped onion, the other sprig of minced rosemary, and the other 2 chopped garlic cloves) except the spinach.  Stir in salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Return to a boil; lower heat and simmer 2-3 minutes.  Remove tomatoes and let cool a few minutes.  Skin, chop and return tomatoes to pot.
  3. Cook soup until chicken is no longer pink in middle and vegetables are tender, 20 minutes or so.  Remove chicken and let cool for five minutes. Skin, bone and chop.  Return meat to the pot; discard bones and skin.  (Unless you have a dog who likes chicken skin.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Remove 2 cups of the soup and puree in the food processor or mash well with a potato masher.  You could also use an immersion blender very briefly.* Return mashed soup to pot, stir, and bring to a boil.   Cook a couple of minutes and lower heat to a bare simmer.
  5. Add spinach; cook 1 minute.  Stir well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  More salt?  Pepper?  Hot sauce?  Carefully add just a teense of any of these and taste again.   Serve hot  with 1T grated Parmesan and a 1/2 tsp lemon rind to top each large bowl.  A dusting of pepper might be welcome as well.
*You want a soup that shows all of its elements--beans, vegetables and meat--merely thickened by the small amount of pureed soup.  You don't want a totally pureed soup.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken and Noodles FAST! or I Finally Got my Snow Day

How quickly can you say Chicken and Noodles?
A not-so-freaky Spring storm hit St. Paul Wednesday, snarling traffic and causing 250 accidents in the metro area.  Which makes me wonder why we all think we  MUST get to work no matter the weather.  Even when the chances of our becoming harmed in the process rise dramatically.   I wonder how much difference it made once folks braved the weather, the roads, and the other drivers.  Especially as the other drivers included guys like one whose semi jack-knived on the interstate and stopped traffic for a good long while in the ice and snow.   At the end of the day, a friend stopped by to drop off a bedside table, mirror and lamp.  Luckily I had shoveled (and shoveled.)  She said it took her and hour and a half to get to work and then none of her appointments showed anyway.

Male downy woodpecker eats fast.  The female eats here, too.  Not at the same time.

When we weren't "protected" by steel, glass and plastic (fueled by flammable liquids), did we decide we simply had to venture out in the elements when God had definitely decreed a day indoors by the fire making a pot of soup and reading?  Did our great-grandparents decide to walk to town in the midst of blizzards?  ("I'm sure I can get there; I need to mail that letter today so it gets there by next month.")

Birds were smart.  They went from the tree to the feeder and back.  Period.
I can't see it.  Life's just too precious and yet I'd be called a wimp if I called in snow.  I watched Dave call a cab, drag his suitcase through the mire and head off to the airport.  My darling got on a plane in that mess, albeit hours later.  I guess he enjoyed the time in the Minneapolis airport; at least it's the nicest (in my opinion) one in the country.   The dogs and I stayed snug.

Temp furniture bought for a song.  Ours will arrive in two months after the snow melts.  Argh.

 The south side of my house faces a fairly busy street (the price of being close to shops and restaurants), so I was able to watch the slip and slide show all day long.  These people couldn't see and they were driving.  It got no better as time wore on.  No plow came and the realization that the plow was waiting for the snow to stop (he knew more than I did as I shoved a couple of times) let me know I was staying home.  Good thing, too, because when the plow did arrive, it laid in a pile of icebergs several feet high at the bottom of my driveway.  Someone then parked in front of it, thinking there was a space on the street.  You know how parking in the snow is.  I could walk out if I felt like it, which I didn't, but my car was going nowhere.  Lenten study at church would have to wait 'til next week.

To shorten the story, it took  more than 24 hours and a young man with two shovels and an ice pick an hour and a half of work (after I shoveled three hours/can you say sore?) to free up access to the street.  Lesson learned:  don't park your car in your drive or garage before a snow storm.  You won't be able to GET OUT afterward. 

Luckily, I had something hot to keep me company.  I had to cook it, though.

Cook's Note:  This is not a long afternoon's chicken noodle soup; it cooks in about 30 minutes.  Still, it's lovely, warming and you didn't have to spend the afternoon in from the snow to get it done.

Easy and Fast Chicken and Noodles serves 2-3; easily doubles

1T each olive oil and butter
3 pieces of chicken (1 breast, 1 leg and 1 thigh)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 stalks celery,  chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut up
1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp each thyme and rosemary (you could sub sage or poultry seasoning)
3 cups chicken stock or water
6 oz frozen egg noodles
1/2 c frozen peas 
  1. In a 3-4 qt heavy saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat and add chicken that you've salted and peppered well.  Add vegetables, herbs, and spices.  Let brown well 5-7 minutes; turn, stir, and let brown another 5 minutes.
  2. Add stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, over low heat about 30 minutes.
  3. Meantime, follow package directions and cook 6 oz frozen egg noodles in a separate pot for 20 minutes, adding frozen peas last 3 minutes.
  4. Strain noodles and peas; add to chicken mixture.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot.  For a more chicken and dumplings feel, add 1/2 cup milk to the pot when you add the noodles and peas. 

I'm reading...  Books on Minnesota (duh), The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles, Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler.  I just bought Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Rikki Carroll and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but I haven't started them.  I've promised my Colorado Springs book club I'd read THE CURIOUS next Wed.   Time to get going.  By the way, Sara Miles book is life-changing and GOAT SONG is one of the most lovingly-written books of the decade.  Where did he learn to write like that?

On Minnesota Public Radio this morning:  We would need $21 million to feed the hungry in Minnesota; that would be for 8 billion meals. 

Sing a new song,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Soup or The Rite of Spring on Bach's Birthday

Hot lunch on a cold spring day
 Outside the window in the new/old (1915) St. Paul house, it's fairly gray.  Everything's gray, in fact.  Melting snow, sky, sun, trees...even the birds appear kind of gray.  But spring it is!

Jack Sparrow and Friend

When you've moved, the chores are myriad.  It seems you're always running to the hardware store for a light switch cover or to Target for garbage bags and peanut butter.  If you're not running, you're on the phone with the phone company or recycling folks.  If you're not on the phone, you're looking at paint samples or asking where the post office is.  (What happened to phone books?)

Sooner or later, plates seem to be on shelves and towels are clean and folded in the bathroom.  You know where to turn the light on for the basement and have figured out what that horrible sound is between the floors or in the walls. (Hot water pipes.)  You have the turn to your house memorized and don't have to count houses from the corner anymore.  And one day, you start making meals again--hardly noticing the skipped nights or that you're in a different kitchen.  Well, I wouldn't go that far.  I am definitely in a different kitchen, though I'm feeling the similarities as I get things squared away.

I had things to do this morning like

  • clean the back porch
  • scrub the basement stairs (honest-to-God linoleum)
  • wash rugs and bathmats
  • bleach down the bathrooms, one of which has an old-fashioned claw-foot tub
 Cool thing was, these are typical house chores--not moving chores.  We've been here long enough for the bathrooms to need a scrub.

So when I got done with the morning work-out, I wanted real food for lunch.  I was sure my hard-working husband wanted some, too.  Scouting out the frig and pantry (still not full, of course), a big cauliflower reared up its head called me by name.  A quick look around the counter and I located onions, shallots, garlic, apples and one lone pretty ripe pear.  I thought I'd throw most of it in the oven to roast while I did one last chore and then puree it all with some chicken stock and curry powder.  Here it is just for you.

As Dave and I sat down to eat, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" (1913) came on the local NPR and the day just came together.  A spring-like light, but warming soup with a kick.  I just couldn't figure out how Bach's birthday figured in, but it's today, too.  Happy Birthday, Johann.  And thanks for Bach, God.

Curried Roasted-Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 apple, peeled and cut up into eighths
1 large onion, same drill
4t olive oil, divided
Sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 shallot, cut in large pieces
1 garlic clove, same drill
1 small carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1 ripe pear, peeled and cut up
1 t curry powder, divided
Pinch each cinnamon and crushed red pepper

1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c each white wine and water (or 1 c water)
1/3 c parsley, chopped
1/8 t cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t white pepper, ground

  Preheat oven to 350 F. On a large baking sheet, place cauliflower, onion and apple.  Drizzle with  2t oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place sheet in oven and roast for about 30 minutes.

 Meantime, in a small soup kettle (4qt),  saute shallot, garlic, carrot and celery in the other 2t olive oil about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care to not burn the shallot and garlic.  Add pear,  1/2 t of the curry powder, parsley, cinnamon and crushed red pepper.  Stir and saute another minute or so.  Add stock, wine and/or water, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a bare simmer.

When cauliflower, apple and onion are roasted, add them to the stockpot and stir.  Bring soup up to a boil and lower heat to a slow boil.  Add rest of curry powder.   Let cook 5-10 minutes.  Puree with immersion blender or in batches in the food processor (carefully).  Taste, adjust seasonings and serve hot with a piece of buttered whole wheat toast.

 Easier yet:  Roast everything, add to stock and puree.  Leaving out fruit, celery, carrot, etc. will produce a more pronounced cauliflower-tasting soup, but also makes things simpler.

Now I'm off to Ace to buy a mesh strainer for the end of the washing machine hose.  Oh well.

Sing a new song or warm up your fingers and give Bach a whirl,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread-A Repeat Post

I had a farm in Ireland.......
Not.  I did, however, visit once.
I wish I could go back.
I can't go today, but I can make Potato Soup and Irish Soda Bread on
St. Patrick's Day......
I've been making this meal for a long time.  I love it, but I don't make it any other time of the year.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it wouldn't be special if I made it, say, in May or September.  You, however, have no holiday strings emotionally strumming over these recipes and could make them next week or next year.
Go you.  So, here's the soup...........and then the bread--
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Potato Soup

2 slices of bacon, diced; 1/4# Canadian bacon, chopped*
2 onions (different kinds are nice), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 leeks, chopped
3 large pototoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces  
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1" pieces, optional
6-8 cups unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 c Greek yogurt or sour cream
parsley or dill

In an 8-10qt soup kettle, saute bacon until about half-done; add Canadian bacon.  Cook until well browned.  Remove meats  from pot and drain on paper towel-lined plate.  Cool and  refrigerate until you're going to serve the soup.  Pour out all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the pan well.  Add onions, garlic and leeks and saute until almost golden, stirring often.  Add potatoes, turnip and parsnip and cook 2-3 minutes until hot.  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a  boil and lower the heat.  Simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 25 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.    Puree in food processor, with hand-held blender or by hand using potato masher.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a bit of the bacon and ham and a garnish of fresh parsley or dill.  Make sure there's fresh ground pepper at the table.
*You could choose to use all bacon.

There isn't much better than soup and bread anywhere.  If you're cold.  If you're really hungry.  Can you think of anything better?  I have a friend whose husband doesn't like soup,  Just doesn't like it at all.  He did, however, eat soup at my house once.  And asked for the recipe later.  Such folks are few and far between.  Who doesn't walk in a house, smell soup simmering or bread baking and go, "Wow!  It just smells so good in here."  And, while we can't always put our fingers on what makes us happy in life, we do know we like it when the house smells like something good to eat.  Those  "Wow"s come with big smiles and anticipatory movements that include looking around for the delighting elements.  So, here's the bread.  More on the provenance later.

Irish Soda Bread - American Style
4 cups flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1/4 c butter
1 1/2 c currants or raisins
1 1/3 c buttermilk
2 large eggs (3 if at altitude)
1 t baking soda

Grease a 2qt  round bowl (ovenproof), casserole or  deep cake pan.
Preheat oven to 375F.

In food processor, or large mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients and mix well.  Cut in with blade attachment or with knives or pastry blender, the butter.  In a large mixing cup, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; add the currants and baking soda.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix well to form a very wet dough.  Turn dough into the prepared baking bowl and bake for about an hour or until bread is very well-browned and firm in the center.  A wooden skewer stuck in the middle of the bread should come out clean.  You may have to test several times.
Let this bread sit 15-20 minutes before cutting or it will crumble.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in foil and storing in the refrigerator.  Will keep 3-4 days.
 Excellent leftover just as it is, but even better for toast made under the broiler. 

2012 update:  If you'd like to make whole wheat Irish Soda bread (very traditional), read my post on Darina Allen's bread here.
copyright 2012 alyce morgan
Me and the green.


A couple of notes on the provenance of the recipes:

I began (and later changed) the potato soup years ago from a recipe called  "A Cold Winter's Day Potato Soup" from THE EASTERN JUNIOR LEAGUE COOK BOOK, edited by Ann Serrane and published by David McKay in ??1980.

The bread recipe is one I have no idea about from whence it came.  It's on a recipe card I've had for so many years.  I'd guess I copied it out of a magazine or a book at the library one day as a young wife. 


While we are making the potato soup, Tucker tries to figure out if he likes onions skins.   Nah....

Sing a new song,

all photographs copyright Alyce Morgan 2003 and 2010


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Bible talks a lot about St. Paul, but it never mentions Minneapolis...

Back of house.  Driveway needs a bit of shoveling, huh?
 After a few days driving, living in hotels with two dogs,  (also one man and 55 tote bags they all wanted to get into), we are "at home" in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Home of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Prairie Home Companion.  Home of Macalester College and University of St. Thomas.  Home of the Minnesota State Fair.  Home of Scusi and The Groveland Tap.  Home of Dave, Alyce, Tucker and Gabby.  (We just watched the population sign go up.)

While Tucker loved the hotel, we're not sure the hotel loved Tucker.   On TV, President Obama addresses the country about the earthquakes and tsunamis, which we heard little about until we stopped for the night.
 Two days of driving from Colorado drove the dogs crazy, but gave me two days alone (nearly) with my husband with them gated in the way back of the car.  Thanks, God.  Lovely weather (cold, but no rain or snow) and mostly clear skies led us most of the way and the first several hours (we went the back way), we saw about two cars.  Overnight in Kansas City and a leisurely breakfast yesterday lent a feeling of almost vacation.  But if it were vacation, my cream soups wouldn't have been packed.  And packed they were.

Dining Room, Office  and nearly everything else for now.

 Moving is not vacation, despite the necessity for eating out, picnicking on the dining room floor or on the blow-up bed, and generally having no place to hang your hat or sit down as there is no furniture.  Moving means getting in a small room with several other people intent on spending the afternoon signing their names over and over again  with only stale coffee to drink.  Moving is getting on a first name basis with the cable guy.  Moving is driving by, stopping to peek in windows, and trying to remember what color the living room is.  (Who bought this house?)  Moving is walking in only to find no one cleaned the refrigerator or inside the cabinets.  Moving is a big sigh of relief to find that everything else is definitely clean, which would include the bathrooms.  Moving is remembering your niece, nephew and kiddoes live just up the road a piece and are already coming to see you.  It's finding two comfy folding chairs and a bottle of Glenlivet on the front porch without a note.  It's seeing your piano teacher appear at the door beautifully coiffed with two huge baskets full of plates, cups, breads, wine, cheese, fruit, roses and A SHARP KNIFE!  (All while she's on the way out of town.)

Look at it now; the living room will never be that clean again!
While we treated ourselves to a celebratory first night at the Italian restaurant and wine bar across the street and down two buildings, we woke up the next morning needing breakfast.  There is little eggs and bacon can't solve.  And all you need is one skillet, a spatula, the eggs and bacon.  I toasted the bread in the oven.

This is how my mom cooked eggs in bacon grease.  A real treat these days.  Broke in the stove but good.

And we were home.

We've spent the first couple of days cleaning up, unpacking, going to the store three times, figuring out what foods the birds want in their feeders, trying to make the gates work in two feet of snow, getting phones, tv and internet working (and then not working) and walking the dogs in mud and big puddles. Once the temperature rose a little above freezing, the stuff began to melt (I'm wet 8 inches up my jeans, not something common in Colorado.)    I must say I'm really wondering where it's all going when it melts.  We made it to worship on the first Sunday in Lent and were warmly welcomed back to Mac Plymouth United Church, which is a combined PCUSA and UCC church four blocks from our house.  We joined the Wednesday Lenten soup and study night; this year focuses on a reading of TAKE THIS BREAD by Sara Miles.  I have this book, but it's packed a thousand miles away.  So I downloaded it to my computer, where I have Kindle.  We'll have to share my computer, tho. 

Side yard.  Thanks to previous owners, I know exactly what's planted here.

Here's Tucker waiting to skid getting a ball.

Here's Gab in the new Two-Dog Kitchen

Come visit soon.  Well,  maybe you should wait til we get chairs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Whole-Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)- or Life is Sweet and Sour

Tarte au Citron...
 When we study music or art, we find ourselves interested in the life of the artist.  What was happening when he wrote that first symphony or when she painted that particular picture.  It may be that cooks have similar make or bake dishes that reflect current life.  When you're feeling unloved, do you make comfort food like beef stew or chocolate chip cookies?  When you're celebrating, is it rare lamb and risotto?

As I ready the house (Who bought all this stuff?) for the move, I find myself baking.  As if I have nothing better to do?   At going-away dinners with friends, I continue to offer to bring something and end up with what could be the easiest part of the meal (dessert-and it isn't) at a time when my pans should be packed already.  Pans of frosted scratch brownies, tiramisu and this lemon tart have been baked (or made, in the case of the tiramisu) and carried around town.  I'm still drooling over cookbooks, though I may have packed nearly everything but one JOY OF COOKING, one SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK and a wine guide that are staying here for reference. Well, there are, as well, a slug of cooking magazines I haven't donated.  I have 17 book boxes full of hymnals and cookbooks.  Somebody should shoot me and put me out of my packing misery.

I typically blog original recipes, but this is too good not to share.  Dorie Greenspan is a fine food blogger and an even finer cookbook author who lives in both New York (where she sometimes "mans" a cookie cart in Manhattan) and Paris. The book Paris Sweets (2002) is not terribly new (her newest is Around my French Table), but it's a go-to for French boulangerie or patisserie dessert recipes written for Americans, as well French.  If you'd like to see the patisserie from whence the recipe came ( Rollet-Pradier in Paris), click here.  By the way, the directions for this tart are easy to follow and the results are easy to eat.  Thanks to Dorie.
courtesy Clarkson-Potter

And while life is bittersweet (I love people in both places-), this tart seems to reflect just about how I feel right now. Oh, and, by the way, this is simpler to make than chocolate chip cookies.  Cheaper, too.  If you don't have a tart pan (a 9-11" metal pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom), use a quiche dish or a plain old pie pan.

TARTE AU CITRON  From Rollet-Pradier, Paris via Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan
                                      (

1 partially baked 9-inch (24-cm) tart shell made from Sweet Tart Dough*
1 average-sized lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces; 130 grams), rinsed and dried
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons (12 grams) cornstarch
1 stick (4 ounces; 115 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven 325 degrees F (165 C). Line a trimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and put the tart shell on the sheet.

Slice the lemon into thin wedges, remove the seeds, and toss the lemon and sugar into the container of a blender or food processor. Blend or process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed and blended with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixture into a bowl and, using a whisk, gently stir in the whole egg and the yolk, followed by the cornstarch and melted butter. Pour the filling into the crust.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the tart for 20 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 C) and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and lightly browned. Transfer the tart, still on the baking sheet, to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. The tart is ready to be served when it reaches room temperature.
This is like lemon bars on steroids..

*I like traditional Pate Sucre (uses ground almonds), but this works, too.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood

If my cream soups are packed, I'm leaving.

If your cream soups are packed, am I leaving?

Did you pack the bones?  Well, then where are they?

One more wine group

Dinner with Britta, too
Will post as possible!
Sing a new song,