Archive for the ‘CSA’ Category

Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortbread Tart

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

 

tart1Sometime during the ’80s, my mother made a lot of fruit tarts like this — I seem to remember they always had kiwi slices on them.  Her versions were also glazed with melted currant or apple jelly, so they were a little more polished than this version, which is nice too, or you can stick with the naked fruit, as I have.  The taste combination of nutty crust, creamy filling, and fresh fruit is perfectly delicious and summery, and it’s easy enough to make without dragging out the food processor or the KitchenAid (welcome to my new TV show: “Cooking Very Quietly While the Baby Sleeps.”)  You can make this with a combination of fruit, whatever is fresh, but it is especially delicious with sweet, slightly soft spring strawberries.  I also like it with blueberries or peaches.  Last night I tried it with Clotilde Dusoulier’s pâte à sablé tart recipe from the Chocolate and Zucchini Cookbook, which she advises that you may mix with your fingers, forever winning my heart.  I cooked it about 5 minutes longer than she calls for, so it would brown really well and have a nice toasty flavor.  Despite the unorthodox method, the crust is really delicious, nutty, crunchy, sweet, and sturdy — it might be my new favorite.  I can’t wait to try it with something chocolate-y and salty. 

Crust:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

7 tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes

1-2 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the butter and work together with a fork or the tips of your fingers until there are no butter blobs larger than peas.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp milk and stir.  It will still look like a big bowl of crumbs but it should clump together well if you squeeze it in your hand — if not, add the 2nd tbsp of milk. 

Pour into a 10 inch tart pan, spread evenly over the bottom, and press down and into the sides of the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s slightly browned and smells nutty and toasty.   Allow to cool completely.

Filling:

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 – 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (sweeten to taste)

1 tbsp honey (optional)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

Beat the cream cheese well with a wooden spoon (or mix with the paddle attachment in the KitchenAid).  Add remaining ingredients and combine.  For variations, try orange zest and juice instead, or try adding 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Topping:

1-2 pints fresh strawberries or other perfectly ripe summer berries or stone fruit

To assemble the tart, spread the cream cheese filling evenly in the tart shell.  Arrange berries or fruit on top. 

Serves 6-8.

Diet Philosophy and Kickass Oatmeal

Monday, February 9th, 2009

oatmealI’ve been trying to migrate my family’s diet from an embarassment of delicious-but-naughty riches to one that’s healthier, but still delicious. The best way I have found to do this is to focus on getting more healthy stuff into our food, rather than removing things that may not be so healthy. I feel satisfied that we are getting a broad spectrum of nutrients, the good things come to replace the bad, and I don’t have to think about one of my least favorite words ever: “diet.” I don’t stress about a little bacon or butter, but I do belong to our local CSA, which ensures that we regularly need to eat through a wide range of organic vegetables, eggs, grains, and yogurt, and I do go out of the way to make sure our diet includes anti-oxidant and vitamin-rich vegetables, healthy oils and nuts, eggs and fish with Omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of whole grains and fresh and dried fruits for fiber.

I started eating oatmeal for breakfast a few months ago, and it has developed into a minor obsession, and an important incentive for getting out of bed. I started out with a rolled variety, which cooks in just a minute or two, but I recently discovered McCann’s Quick and Easy Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal, which contains regular steel cut oats just like the original McCann’s, but they cook in about 5 minutes, instead of 30 for the original Steel Cut kind. I think they’re parboiled? Not sure, but they are infinitely better than the rolled kind — more nutty, with a less gloppy texture — and you won’t die of starvation waiting for them to cook. You can put anything you like on or in your oatmeal. Some of my favorites are:

  • Frozen berries — especially raspberries — the oatmeal thaws them out slowly as you eat it
  • Sliced Apples
  • Sliced Bananas
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Raisins
  • Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Jaggery
  • Maple Syrup
  • Agave Syrup
  • Honey
  • A little butter or cream
  • Maldon’s Sea Salt — sounds wierd, I know, but try it with unsalted butter and demerara sugar and maybe some raisins and you’ll see what I mean