Monday, September 29, 2008

Savory Goat Cheese and Leek Tart and Fried Green Tomatoes

It’s been a wet and dreary early fall here in New England, which kind of dictated this unusual but in the end, wonderful meal.
We were supposed to go camping but the weather made that an impossibility. The only upside is that this weather is that it makes me want to cook, specifically something savory and fall-like, and a chance conversation with a friend about the fate of our tomato plants in this terrible weather led me to find a recipe for fried green tomatoes at Southern Living magazine. Paired with this tart I’ve been meaning to make from Local Flavors I had a great meal for a rainy Saturday night.
There are many other recipes online for fried green tomatoes, many of them with fewer ingredients. But this one is from Southern Living, first of all, and the additions are all things like buttermilk and cornmeal, second of all -- so it seemed worth the extra effort, to me. The next day I noticed that I’m not the only Boston-ite who was interested in this southern staple -- the folks at the Boston Globe had the same idea, so you can find a another recipe here. Theirs turns the tomatoes into little mozzarella sandwiches which I just might have to try.
The tart came together with surprising ease. I didn’t make my own crust since we had a frozen rolled one already, but your favorite simple pie crust would do nicely. Since my husband was unable to find crème fraîche at the store I substituted heavy cream. I was worried about the tart setting but there’s such a high leak/other stuff ratio it wasn’t a problem at all -- it’s different than a quiche, the vegetables really do hold the dish together. I had no fresh thyme so put some dried on top instead. While the tart is best served piping hot my husband is planning on taking cool leftovers to work and I think it will be a wonderful and different lunch.
I’ve never made fried green tomatoes before but I’ve enjoyed them at restaurants, most recently at the sorely missed Magnolia’s here in Inman Square. Mine were not nearly as pretty as some of the ones you can get elsewhere but they are easy to make and absolutely delicious. And what a great use for end of season tomatoes that won’t go red before the first frost. We ate them with a little hot sauce but I was thinking that some horseradish mayo would have been amazing as well.

Savory Goat Cheese Tart with Leeks
1 9-inch prebaked tart shell
6 slender leeks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
white pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Slice the leeks into thin circles and then rinse them thoroughly in water. Meanwhile, elt the butter in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Beat the goat cheese and the egg in a mixer until blended. Add the milk, creme fraiche or cream, a pinch of salt and a pinch of white pepper. Put the leeks into the pie shell and then pour the custard over them, mixing a bit with a spoon or spatula so they are evenly distributed. Put the thyme on top of the part and bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Apple Peach Blueberry Pie

Quick, it's that magic time of year when you can get fresh, local apples, peaches, and blueberries. And there's nothing better than Apple Peach Blueberry Pie.

I created the recipe for Pi Day this past year, expanding upon my mom's delicious apple pie recipe. And let me tell you, while I loved this pie in March, it's a million times better with ingredients fresh off the tree!

Here's my recipe for Apple Peach Blueberry Pie:

6 to 8 apples (I like to use a variety of types, larger sized apples. If you use small apples, peel more like 10 to 12)
2 or 3 peaches
2/3 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons of butter (optional...I almost always forget it!)
2 pie crusts (make your own or buy from the refrigerator section...I won't tell!)


Peel apples and peaches and thinly slice into a large bowl. Add blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir gently to coat and let sit for at least ten minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place bottom pie crust into pie plate. Add all of the filling. Cut up the butter and dot around on top of the filling. Top with second pie crust. Cut vents in top.

Place aluminum foil around the edges of the pie to prevent burning. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and continue baking an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the pie is nicely browned.


For all you locals, we went to Parlee Farms to pick fruit. They are reasonably priced (we spent $39 for a peck of stone fruit and a 1/2 bushel of apples...over 30 lbs of apples, peaches, nectarine, and plums!) And, it's a lot of fun for kids with a hay ride out to the orchards, a small farm animal area, and a hay maze. They also have a nut-free bakery. It was such a joy to be able to buy a cookie for my son with nut allergies. And if that's not enough, they even had local fall strawberries in their farm stand. Local strawberries! In September! Yum.

Figured I'd pass along the recommendation since we had such a great time!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Raw Fruit/Vegetable Salads

The latest "raw food craze" has sparked my interest in preparing more fresh fruits & vegetables for my family. Due to concerns with the overall safety of the current food supply and the need for proper nutrition in my food allergic family, I can't go totally raw - yet I can incorporate some of the basic ideas. Growing up on a fruit & vegetable farm in Michigan, it was as much of a delight to pick a fresh juicy green bean and eat it raw as it was to eat a plump strawberry warm from the summer sun.

Purchasing local produce is as close as I'll get to my childhood lifestyle, though affordability and convenience are now also concerns. Moving into the fall season, I thought I'd share a couple of great fruit/vegetable salad combinations, that are perfect to make in the evening and send for lunches/snacks the next day. Feel free to experiment/substitute any kind of vegetable or fruit your CSA sends (i.e. shredded beets/zucchini/jicama for the carrots, pears for the apples, etc.), or add unsweetened shredded coconut or other dried fruit.

Apple/Carrot/Pineapple Salad:
3 crunchy apples, peeled or unpeeled, chopped into chunks (whatever size you prefer)
about 1 can pineapple chunks (fresh or canned in their own juice, drained)
about 4 carrots shredded in a food processor or sliced into thin strips
1/4 c. dried currants or raisins (any dried fruit would work)
1/2 - 1 green pepper, thinly sliced and chopped
optional: chopped walnuts, pecans or any kind of nut

Just mix everything together, it will keep overnight and for at least a day in the fridge. You could choose to put some sort of dressing on it if you wanted (yogurt dressing - yogurt, lemon, and honey), mayo, or a vinaigrette. My kids liked this plain with a little honey drizzled on top (I shred the carrots in my Cuisinart, it makes them much easier to eat for the younger ones, and I used canned pineapple so some of the juice was enough "dressing"). I had to leave off the nuts for the kids (allergic), but they are easy to add last if the adults want some extra protein.

Option for busy people (pictured above): Shred 3 carrots, 1 apple, and 1 green pepper in your Cuisinart food processor. Dump in a can of pineapple juice. I made this for my kids to eat in the car or on-the-run.

Dairy/Egg-Free Fresh Coleslaw:
1/2 head cabbage, shredded (I use my Cuisinart food processor)
1-2 carrots, shredded
1-2 apples, peeled, cut into chunks
1/2 c. raisins, dried currants or cranberries/dried cherries

1 T. rice milk
3 T. white vinegar
2 T. orange juice
1 t. honey
1 T. lemon juice
6 T. olive oil

Just whisk the dressing together and mix in to the vegetables.

Fresh Beet/Carrot Slaw (from Martha Stewart's, "Great Food Fast"...a great cookbook arranged by season):
1 pound raw beets (shredded in food processor)
2 carrots (shredded)

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 T. olive oil
1 T. honey
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. cayenne

Just mix up the dressing and add to the vegetables. I adjust the spices in the dressing for my kids, but otherwise, this is a fun way to eat beets (though perhaps slightly messy).