Fig and goat cheese tart with thyme and hazelnut

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hey there! It’s been awhile since we posted a recipe. Life got a bit busy. Actually a LOT busy since we became a family of four in August. More on that later!

For now I want to share a fig recipe because it’s National Fig Week! If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know how crazy I am about figs. I love figs in desserts and in a snack but once in a blue moon I love a savory fig dish. The sweetness of fig paired with the tang of goat cheese makes this tart a perfect light lunch. It is super easy to throw together because the recipe uses store bought puff pastry. These days we rely on quick meals to get us through the day with both of our boys keeping us super busy. You can enjoy the tart by itself or with a light salad of some peppery greens like watercress or arugula. Enjoy!

Fig and goat cheese tart with thyme and hazelnuts

About 10 oz of puff pastry
6 ripe figs
2 tbsps goat cheese
½ tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsps toasted hazelnuts
Egg yolk for brushing
1 tsp sanding sugar
All purpose flour for dusting
Extra honey and thyme leaves for serving

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Lightly dust a pastry board or work surface with flour and roll the pastry out into a 9x7 inch oval.

3. Carefully lift the pastry onto the baking sheet, taking care not to stretch the dough.

4. Leave a one inch border, prick the pastry with a fork, and pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

6. In a bowl, mix the goat cheese, honey, and thyme leaves together until well combined.

7. Slice the figs into circles.

8. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer.

9. Spread the goat cheese mixture over the pastry, leaving a one inch border around the edges.

10. Arrange the fig slices on top of the goat cheese.

11. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the fig slices and press gently to seal.

12. Brush the edges with egg wash and sprinkle the sanding sugar over the edges.

13. Bake the tart in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes until the tart becomes light golden and juices start to run from the figs.

14. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.

15. When ready to serve, sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on top and garnish with additional thyme leaves and honey.

Cookbook Review: The Cottage Kitchen

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I was really looking forward to cooking from The Cottage Kitchen by Marte Forsberg because of her beautiful work as a photographer.  Given her Norwegian root, I was interested in her Norwegian recipes.  Her grandma’s caramel pudding was delicious and was similar to other flan or creme caramel that I had before.  I thought serving it with whipped cream was interesting but it definitely tasted better without it.  The Norwegian waffles turned out delicious but they were more on the dense side instead of light and airy.  The meatballs with parsnip and cardamom puree was the one recipe that really caught me by surprised.  The recipe used rolled oats and I don’t usually make meatballs with oats but I guess the concept is similar to using bread crumbs.  The parsnip and cardamom puree was so flavorful and I would want to have this with meatballs instead of the regular mashed potato.  Her mother’s recipe for pancakes which reminded me of crepes.  I ate them with blueberries and they tasted kind of bland so the next time I had them with a strawberry jam which turned out more flavorful.  Overall this is a beautiful book but it lacked the deeply rooted Norwegian recipes that I was hoping to try.  The Nordic Cookbook or Fire and Ice would be a better choice if one was interested in Nordic cuisine.   

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher     

Cookbook Review: Cherry Bombe Cookbook

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I was excited to review the Cherry Bombe Cookbook given the preface that all the recipes are contributed by some of the most interesting chefs, bakers, food stylists, pastry chefs, and creatives on the food scene today.  Having not read the magazine, I had no preconceived notions of the cookbook.  The book includes 100 recipes from 100 contributors and I only recognized a handful of the names like Jeni Britton Bauer, Melissa Clark, Jessica Koslow, Padma Lakshmi, Elisabeth Prueitt, Chrissy Teigen, Molly Yeh, and Aran Goyoaga.  

The cookbook is very straightforward in term of recipes but I wish there was a bit more information as to why these women are at the top of their games.  I wanted to know more about their stories and why these recipes are so meaningful to them rather than just a snippet about the recipe.  With regard to the recipes, the beet ricotta dumplings really stood out so I tried it first.  They were light and pillowy as promised and so tasty.  Another recipe that I really liked was the easy crab roll with avocado.  I didn’t have any hot dog buns but brioche bread which turned out really good.  The last recipe that I attempted was the red cabbage salad with sesame anchovy dressing which was my least favorite recipe.  I liked the salad dressing minus the anchovy.  Overall I really enjoyed the Cherry Bombe Cookbook and learning about these inspiring women and can’t wait to try more recipes from it.       

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher        

Cookbook Review: The Essential Insta Pot Cookbook

Monday, October 2, 2017

I received The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook from the publisher to review but I have to preface this review that I do not own an Instant Pot and can only comment on the recipes but not the result of the recipes.  With seven chapters of recipes, there’s plenty to try from the breakfast, beans and grains, soups and chillis, beef and pork, poultry, vegetables and side dishes, and desserts.  

From the breakfast section, the lemon-poppy seed breakfast cake jumped out at me because I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to make cake this way.  Recipes that I thought were fillers include hard boiled eggs, omelette, oatmeal, and porridge.  The beans and grains section didn’t have that many interesting recipes except to cook risotto using an Insta Pot would be a huge time saver instead of standing by the stove stirring and babysitting the risotto.  The soup section was also pretty meh. The meat chapters definitely had more appetizing recipes like the arroz con pollo, dijon chicken and wild rice pilaf, pomegranate walnut chicken, and Korean braised short ribs.  My favorite chapter from the book would be dessert.  I’m fascinated that one can make cake in this particular fashion.  The carrot cake and Meyer lemon ricotta cheesecake recipes would be fun to try.  Overall this book has many gorgeous photographs with well written instruction but not that many recipes that really stood out.  
*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher           

Crepes with strawberries and mascarpone

Monday, August 14, 2017

I was always fascinated with crepes but never attempted to make it at home until our honeymoon in Paris. Everywhere we walked there was a crepe stand around the corner. We saved a lot of money and time grabbing crepes for breakfast and lunch on the way to the museums or sightseeing and splurged on dinner. My husband gravitated toward the savory ones while my sweet tooth always won.

Since our honeymoon eons ago, we love alternating crepes for breakfast with our other French favorite, French toast. Continuing our obsession with strawberries and basil from a tart that we shared a while back, we decided to bring these flavors together for the filling of our crepes. This breakfast is perfect for summer when strawberries are at their peak season but you can replace the strawberries with stone fruits like cherries, peaches, and plums. Even though this recipe seems a bit involved, it’s quite simple and anyone can make it!

Crepes with strawberries and mascarpone

½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup organic milk
½ cup organic heavy cream
½ tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 organic egg
Melted unsalted butter

Mascarpone creme

¼ cup mascarpone
¼ cup organic heavy cream
1 tbsp honey and extra for serving
½ tsp vanilla bean past
1 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tbsps baby basil leaves

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and egg until smooth. Leave the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest (you can also keep it refrigerated overnight if you wish to prepare it for the next day).

2. Brush a nonstick 8 inch crepe pan or skillet with melted butter and heat over medium-high heat.

3. When hot, ladle about ¼ cup of batter and swirl the pan/skillet so that the batter coats the base evenly.

4. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden, then flip and cook for another minute on the other side until pale golden.

5. Remove the crepe from the pan, place on baking sheet, cover, and keep warm with a clean tea towel. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.

6. Whisk the mascarpone, heavy cream, vanilla, and honey until well combined.

7. Divide the crepes among serving plates, spread with mascarpone cream, extra honey, and basil leaves.

8. You can store leftover crepes in the freezer and rewarm when ready to serve.

Orange blossom yogurt with figs and pistachios

Monday, August 7, 2017

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh figs and I have been patiently waiting for their arrival since June. We have our own little fig tree growing in the garden but 16 figs would barely last me a couple days. I saw an early wave of figs back in June, but August is really the beginning of fig season--Black Mission figs, brown turkey figs, Kadota figs, St John Adriatic figs, and so many more. I love them with yogurt or fresh ricotta as a snack. I recently discovered orange blossom water and was excited by how their beautiful scent can elevate a simple ingredient like Greek yogurt. My husband and I love this delightful combination of Greek yogurt with orange blossom water, the luscious and sweet taste of figs, sweetened by a touch of honey, and topped with pistachios.


Orange blossom yogurt with figs and pistachios

1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of orange blossom water
A pint of fresh figs, halved or quartered if large
2 tbsps of chopped, shelled unsalted pistachios
2 tbsps of honey

1. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, orange blossom water, and honey until well combined.

2. Spoon the yogurt into two serving bowls.

3. Top the yogurt with fresh figs, pistachios, and additional honey if desired.

Elderflower Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Pistachio

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon pints and pints of elderflowers at Specialty Produce and could hardly contain my excitement as I picked out the sweetly scented, creamy white blossoms. It was my first time seeing elderflowers! Given how expensive they were, I only bought enough to use as a garnish for a simple treat I had in mind--panna cotta. 

I used one of my favorite liqueurs, St Germaine, to add a subtle elderflower flavor to the panna cotta, then topped it off with fresh elderflowers, strawberries, and pistachio. It was so good we polished a whole batch in two days. Then I made it again per my hubby’s request. This panna cotta is the perfect embodiment of spring with the delicate elderflowers and sun kissed strawberries. 

Elderflower panna cotta

1 ½ cups organic heavy cream
½ cup organic 2% milk
¼ cup sugar
2 gelatin sheets (I used PerfectaGel Platnium Gelatin)
½ vanilla bean pod
2 tbsps elderflower cordial (St Germaine)
1 tbsp roasted unsalted pistachio, chopped
½ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half if big
1 tsp powdered sugar
Fresh elderflower for garnish

1. Combine heavy cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer for a few minutes. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Scrape the vanilla pod’s seeds into the milk, whisk to combine, and add the pod. Steep the pod until it has softened. Remove the pot from heat and discard the vanilla pod.

3. Soak the gelatine sheets in a small bowl of cold water for 5-7 minutes until softened.

4. Remove the sheets and squeeze them to remove excess water. Add them to the vanilla-infused cream mixture while it’s still hot. Whisk to completely dissolve the gelatin sheet.

5. Stir in the elderflower cordial.

6. Allow the cream mixture to cool completely and pour into individual ramekin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until fully set.

7. When ready to serve, combine the sliced strawberries with powdered sugar in a bowl and let it macerate for 10 minutes.

8. Turn the panna cottas out onto serving plates, top with the strawberries, chopped pistachios, and garnish with a few elderflowers.