While I was at home, Mom and I went to my favorite bookstore, Joseph-Beth Booksellers. They always have a great bargain table, and on this trip, all the books were about gardening and cookbooks. I picked up Farm to Table Cookbook: Discover the joys of seasonal organic cooking, published by Parragon Books. It has a great introduction on sustainable and organic farming, fair trade, recycling, preserving/canning foods, and eating seasonally. The recipes are arranged by season.
Naturally, I turned to the “Spring” section and was greeted with recipes that use spring veggies like artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, leeks, spring cabbage, and morels. It all looked so fresh and delicious, so I picked a couple of recipes to try. (This book also includes great looking dessert recipes! Will definitely be trying these out. Maybe I will have a dessert edition of the recipe blog…)
Little Scallion, Pea, and Ricotta Tarts
- 1 1/3 C flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/8 sticks butter, diced
- 1 egg yolk
- 9 oz. ricotta cheese
- 3 1/5 oz. Pecorino cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 8 scallions, finely chopped
- 2 T fresh shelled peas, lightly cooked and cooled
- 1 tsp green peppercorns in brine, drained (Note: I couldn’t find these, but you can buy dried green peppercorns on the spice aisle, soak them in salt water for an hour, and they rehydrate.)
1. Make the pastry by sifting the flour and salt together in a bowl, then add the butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yok and a bit of cold water to form a smooth dough. Cover and refridgerate for 30 mins. Note: I made the crust the day before and refrigerated it in plastic wrap. Then microwaved briefly to make it soft again.
2. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
3. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to 1/4-1/2 inch. Cut circles to line the muffin pan. Press the pastry into the cups. Line each pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. This keeps the pastry in place.
4. Bake the pastry shells for about 5-6 minutes, until light golden and crisp. Remove paper and beans.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix ricotta and Pecorino cheese in a bowl. Add egg, scallions, and peas. Chop the peppercorns finely (kinda tricky) and add to the mixture. Season with salt and a good bit of pepper.
6. Spoon the filling into the pastry shells and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. The middle should be firm. It took closer to 15 or maybe even 20 in my oven. Note: I only got 11 pastry shells out of the dough, and they got “thinner” as I went. There was definitely enough filling for 12 tarts.
This recipe was more involved than I usually get, but not difficult. They were light and delicious with a perfect flaky crust. And I have enough for 3 more meals.
(Side note… I planned to feed more than just me and had the pastry made and the fresh ingredients, so I made the full batch of these. They may not keep that well in the fridge. Despite my best-ish efforts, I couldn’t find someone to come share… The circle is small in Atlanta.)
Asparagus with Lemon Butter Sauce
- 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 T water
- 7/8 stick of butter, cubed
I just used as much asparagus as I would eat, but made the full sauce recipe. Oops.
1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes or until just tender. (They would be delicious like this if you are going lo-fat, but the sauce is incredible!)
3. Meanwhile, nake the sauce. Pour lemon juice and water into a saucepan over medium heat. Heat for a minute, then add the butter, cube by cube, stirring continuously until all incorporated. Season with pepper to taste.
4. Remove asparagus and drizzle with sauce (or dip… or drink… it’s that good.) Eat it hot, because the sauce solidifies.
Rosemary Russet Potatoes
This was inspired by the lovely Sara Garrard, who reminded me yesterday that I love rosemary potatoes, not from the cookbook.
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Wash, then half (or quarter) russet potatoes. Place in a baking dish.
3. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, then season with dried rosemary, salt, and pepper.
4. Bake until tender, approximately 45 minutes. (I cheated… my food was ready, the potatoes were still tough, so I microwaved for 1 minute after 40 in the oven and they were perfect.)
Again, a lovely meal, inspired by spring. I polished it off with frozen blueberries for dessert. The veggies are easy to make for just one and the tart recipe could be halved and shared by 2 people.
yum yum yum! you are a pro!
Looks really yummy!
how could you combine your career and Rachel Ray's? I think you would be great at both 🙂 I wish I could make those as well, but I sure don't know how best to go about it in these grocery stores. Perhaps we can experiment some when you come!
This looks incredible…