We are coming to the end of asparagus season, but you may be able to get one more use in - and I recommend this one. An asparagus flavored custard with goat cheese and Gruyere, tucked inside a flaky puff pastry shell? Yes, please!
This Martha Stewart recipe uses the stalks and tips separately. The stalks get pureed into the custard, and the tips decorate the top of the tart.
The custard is made with asparagus, eggs, cream, and flour (I altered the recipe based on comments - adding more flour to help it set up).
The custard goes into a pre-baked shell, then the cheeses are sprinkled on top, followed by the asparagus tips.
The texture is gorgeous and the asparagus is definitely the star of the show. Yum, yum, yum - get out there and grab the last of the asparagus!
I have been dying to make this pie ever since I discovered the recipe last summer, sadly too late for strawberry season. I love the combination of sour cream and fruit - really, REALLY love it. One of my favorite pies ever is this creme fraiche and peach pie that you know I will be making as soon as peaches are in season.
The filling is so easy it's almost silly, but before we get to that I want to talk about this crust. This crust! First of all, can we acknowledge that that is the prettiest crust I have ever made? She's improving, ladies and gentlemen! Part of that is due to how easy this crust is to work with. I had thought I discovered the secret to good crust two years ago with Martha Stewart's half butter, half shortening pate brisee - BUT, then I discovered this recipe with butter and lard. Lard, folks, is the bomb. Why have I never used it before?! After all, shortening is just pretending to be lard - so why not go with the real stuff? The texture, the taste, the ease of rolling it out even when it's cold - *sigh*. Please tell me you will make this. Seriously, go make it right now.
I am one of those people that refuses to let go of a season, so I apologize if Spring drags on a bit for me here (especially since I am always late posting). But we are still in the transition period from Spring to Summer, so it's not THAT bad (I hope).
Anyway, during one of my weekly lunches with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies, we decided to make a shaved asparagus pizza with some gorgeous purple asparagus that she got from a local farm (she talks about it here).
Isn't it beautiful? It turns out that this asparagus is super juicy, so it released a lot of liquid during cooking that we had to mop up with paper towels. If you have some big, juicy stalks and want to make pizza, I recommend sauteing them a bit first or tossing with kosher salt and draining on paper towels for a bit to draw the moisture out.
Here is the beautiful whole wheat pizza dough that Melissa had ready to go when I got there.
It's time for another vegetarian lunch with Melissa! This time we made a warm and creamy grain salad with veggies (kind of our favorite thing). This salad has farro, arugula, scallions, split peas, English peas, goat cheese, and chives in a citrusy dressing with orange, shallot, and Parmesan. So basically every delicious ingredient there is.
We made things easy by precooking the farro and split peas (you can do this a day in advance) and using frozen peas.
We tossed the farro mixture with a citrusy dressing, then folded in arugula and charred scallions, and topped with goat cheese and chives. Let me tell you about charred scallions - they are awesome. Super awesome. We were worried that the onion flavor would be overwhelming, but charring them takes a lot of that sharpness out and replaces it with sweetness.
The new Mosaic Shopping Center in Merrifield, VA is super cool. There's a Target, an indie movie theater, a gym, boutiques, and cafes. Sea Pearl is one of the larger, less casual restaurants in the center. The website describes it as "Asian inspired modern American cuisine." The main focus is seafood - they have both cooked dishes and sushi - but they also have some meat dishes and a pretty good brunch (on Saturday, too, which I love). It's quite large and the decor is really lovely. It's a little on the feminine side, which would make it perfect for ladies' brunch or girls' night out (the drinks are good, but with DC prices). I've never seen it packed, so large groups could be seated easily.
Let's start with Brunch, because that is what I go for most often.
Cinnamon churros with warm chocolate dipping sauce: these are super awesome - hot, fresh, crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. Love it.
Ricotta fritters with honey and seasonal fruit (this time it was apple): these are good too, fluffy and rich. If you had to choose only one pastry though, I'd go with the churros.
I have been wanting to learn to make my own pasta for years, so I was super jealous when my friend Melissa (you know her by now) got a pasta roller for Christmas. I had been thinking about getting the Kitchen Aid attachment (versus the hand crank kind) but it is very expensive and I had read reviews about them breaking and being hard to clean. Melissa said that her manual roller was very easy to use, and invited me over to try it out / teach me how to use it.
Our first experiment was Spinach Ravioli with a Creamy Tomato and Veggie Sauce - yum!
The first step is to make the filling. Saute diced onion in butter, then add in frozen spinach (thawed and drained) to cook out any liquid.
Add in ricotta, Parmesan, and an egg yolk.
About a month ago I got really excited about juicing after watching a documentary called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." The man in the film goes on a 2 month long juice fast, which I was definitely not prepared to do. I wasn't even prepared to do the more standard 7-10 day juice fast. But I did like the idea of using juices to consume large quantities of raw vegetables in a more palatable manner. So I bought a ton of veggies and went to work.
I started with a recipe from the doc's website and added a little to it, using carrots, bell pepper, apple, ginger, golden beet, fennel, and mango.
Gorgeous color! I used too much ginger, though, it had quite a kick.
Halloumi is a salty, dense Greek cheese that is super amazing when grilled. My friend Melissa, from Smells Like Brownies, is a big fan so she was pretty excited when I showed her this recipe. Hearty quinoa mixed with lettuce and veggies and topped with warm cheese - delish!
We didn't end up having the cucumbers the original recipe called for, so we used tomatoes instead and they were great. I do really like cucumbers, though, so I would say to use both. The more veg, the better, right? The dressing includes red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, and scallion - yum!
We also discovered (by oiling one side and not the other of an electric grill) that the cheese gets better grill marks when the grill is not oiled. Don't worry, though, it won't stick!
This is a very satisfying (and light!) vegetarian lunch that is sure to make even meat eaters happy.
This post got lost and forgotten somewhere, so it's not very seasonal and I apologize. But you can look forward to making it next Fall.
And you should look forward to it. Sweet, caramelized pumpkin with spices, creamy yogurt, and tangy tomato sauce? Yes, please. This is one of my favorite Afghan dishes, called kadu bouranee.
And these delicious Moroccan inspired meat pies made with phyllo, ground beef, and spices are the perfect main to complement the pumpkin. You could also make the Afghan meat dumplings called mantu, of course, but they require a little bit more work.
On one of our weekly lunch adventures, my friend Melissa and I decided to try out a risotto made from barley. Barley is a whole grain that (unless you have a wheat allergy) is better for you than rice, even brown rice. The grains are larger and chewier than rice, but they make a very good substitute. I actually like barley better than rice because the chewiness gives the dish more body.