Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Looking For A Light Summer Supper?

Ever get home from a Farmer's market and you have so many tomatoes,
you don't know what to do with them all?
Make this tart and serve with a Tomato, Basil , Red Onion and fresh Mozzarella Salad tossed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil!
A great place to pick up homemade Mozzarella is from Di Pasquale's  .
Nothing better in the Summer then sun ripened tomatoes with basil and homemade mozzarella!

Tomato and Basil Tart
5 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
10 basil leaves, coated in olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
for the pastry
4 oz flour
2 oz of butter
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
1. to prepare the pastry, mix flour and salt , then rub in the butter and egg yolk. add enough cold water to make a smooth dough and knead lightly on a floured surface and place in a plastic bag and chill for an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 375. Remove pastry and allow to sit 10 min. and roll out to 8" round, press into an 8" tart pan. and prick with fork and bake for 10 min, firm but not brown. Reduce heat to 350.
3. Arrange the mozzarella slices over the pastry base, then a single layer of tomatoes, then the red onion, then the garlic and top with the basil. drizzle little olive oil all over. Sprinkle little salt and pepper.
Bake for 40-45 min. Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I took back roads the other day and found an amazing family owned farm, Hills Forest Fruit Farm, off of Mt Vista Road in Kingsville, MD. I was lured by the hand made signs.
I was greeted by a welcoming gentleman, his wife busy wrapping bundles of asparagus. They reminded me of my grandparents. I asked them, "What do I do with Rhubarb?"
Yes, I know all about the traditional pies and jams, not my style, so I decided to spend my day off in the kitchen and come up with my own recipe that included Rhubarb.

Rustic Rose Wine, Strawberry & Rhubarb Croustades
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
Filling/ wine reduction
2 pints fresh picked strawberries, sliced
1 bundle of Rhubarb, peeled and cut into 1" slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Rose wine

1. Make the crust: In food processor , pulse the butter, flour and salt until it resembles coarse meal.
Add the water and pulse just until dough forms. Divide into 6 pieces and flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 min.
2. Make the Filling: In a pan over medium heat, reduce the wine, sugar, strawberries and rhubarb. It will look like a thin jam. Chill slightly.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk to a 6" round about 1/8" thick. Transfer 3 to a baking sheet. Spread the fruit reduction on the rounds and and fold 1-inch of dough over the fruit to form a rim.
4. Brush the crusts with the beaten egg and sprinkle with touch of sugar. Bake for 35-40 min at 375 or until crusts are golden, rotate pan half way through. Transfer to rack to cool.
Dust with confectioner's sugar and place a single sliced strawberry and mint leaf on top in the center.

Drink a glass of Rose while you are baking! and say" Bon Appetite! "

Thursday, May 20, 2010


"And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray, when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea." 
Proust, Remembrance of Things Past: Swann's Way

I decided today to share my Madeleine recipe. My friend, Kelly will appreciate this!
I always think of Proust when I am baking these little cakes, I even have an old Madeleine pan, as decor, in my kitchen. You will love taking that first warm bite.
This recipe comes from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, Commercy to be exact.
3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp orange flower water, or grated rind of 1 orange or lemon, or rosewater
1/4 lb butter, melted
25-30 medium madeleines

Sift flour with baking powder. Whisk the sugar and the eggs in a bowl until thick and light; then beat in
the orange flower water. Fold in the flour, sifting it over the egg mixture in three batches.
Sprinkle the melted butter over it and fold together as lightly as possible.
Chill the batter for 20-30 min.
Set the oven to 450
Thoroughly butter and flour the moulds.
Using a large spoon. pour into the moulds, filling them by two-thirds.
Bake for 5 min; reduce heat to 400
and bake for a further 5-7 min or until golden brown.
Transfer to a rack to cool.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paprika Marinated Chicken, Sauteed Summer Vegetables with Toasted Israeli Couscous ,Served with Golan Heights Cabernet

My friend, Karen just moved into a new place and asked me to break in her kitchen. I decided to prepare a meal that was fast, fresh and healthy. Paprika Marinated Chicken, Sauteed Summer Vegetables with Toasted Israeli Couscous, and Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette. I was given a fabulous bottle of Golan Heights Cabernet! (thank you Anita).What a great wine and a perfect evening.

Paprika Marinated Chicken
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped Basil
2 Cloves Garlic crushed
Add everything to a zip lock freezer bag and massage chicken, rubbing all the ingredients together and pressing into chicken. Put in fridge for an hour. Then place each breast into a hot skillet. After a few minutes turn the breast and cook thoroughly. Place on cutting board and slice on diagonal. Place on bed of couscous, and dress each plate with side of Mixed Greens with cherry tomatoes .
Sauteed Summer Vegetables with Toasted Israeli Couscous
1 yellow zucchini chopped
A bunch of asparagus,  1/2" sliced on diagonal 
1 yellow and 1 green pepper chopped
1 red onion chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Saute vegetables in little olive oil , dash of sea salt and pepper, add 1/2 tablespoon of paprika, dash of cayenne pepper. Saute till tender, do not overcook.
Toast the couscous in little olive oil, then prepare according to package. I use 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 water, touch of salt and pinch of saffron threads.
When ready add to sauteed vegetables.
For the Lemon Vinaigrette I just whisked extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, juice of one lemon , sea salt and pepper . 
Simple and Tasty!
I have everyone hooked on quality paprika and Israeli Couscous! Buy Israeli wine! You will think differently about Kosher wine!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Simple French Breakfast

I have been saving this can of Chestnut Spread for a couple of weeks.  This morning I decided to open, since I only have two slices of this yummy bread left  from a loaf that I picked up in a bakery in Chinatown. Sweetened chestnut spread is a specialty of the department of Ardeche in the south east of France. Established in 1882 in Ardèche, France's most prominent chestnut region, Clément Faugier has remained a local family-owned business to this day.
It is made from chestnuts, pieces of candied chestnuts, sugar, glucose syrup, and vanilla , and is fat free! You can spread on toast, brioche, pancakes, perfect for crepes, scones, put on ice cream, use in baking.
Love it! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Painting Asparagus

Today I decided instead of cooking, I would paint. I have carted two separate bags of fresh asparagus back and forth from work to New York for two weeks. Finally after confronting my fears, I set up my palette and started painting asparagus. For me there are two intimidating things in life, painting and mastering French cuisine.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seared Tuna with Lavender Crust & Purple Potato Chips

 I started the day by trying to find the perfect image online of a field of lavender, to insert into an email for my Mother. This led me to thinking about cooking with lavender. I love how culinary flowers infuse a dish with a perfumed essence. I ventured over to Dual Specialty Store, an Indian and World Import on 1st Ave. They have everything! 
The name "lavender" is Latin from the word "lavare", and means to wash.
The Romans used lavender to scent and flavor jellies as well as other sweets.
Lavender has become a popular ingredient in cooking for both sweet and savory dishes. Desserts such as creme brulee are scented with lavender and as an ingredient for main courses like lamb and fish.  Try scenting sugar with lavender for baking or even adding to tea.

Seared Tuna with Lavender Crust
Use center-cut tuna, trim and cut the tuna into a block 2 inches across; then cut into 1-inch steaks. 
Crush the sea salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds and lavender with a mortar and pestle. Lightly oil the tuna with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil; evenly coat the tuna with the lavender-pepper mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minute, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minute until medium rare. Remove from heat and immediately refrigerate the tuna for at least 1 hour.
Arrange the greens on chilled individual serving plates!!
Drizzle with Lavender Honey Mustard Dressing, I use a delicate Champagne vinegar. 
Thinly slice the tuna and arrange on top of the dressed greens,
with a side of Peruvian purple potato chips.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

South Brooklyn Pizza

The wind was so intense today, very strange weather for May. Walking home we passed a new pizza shop on 1st ave, South Brooklyn Pizza, a second location for this Carroll Gardens pizzeria. I was lured into the shop by the huge blocks of Parmesan and the homemade rounds of mozzarella, seen from the window. We ordered the Margherita, crispy crust, tangy  housemade sauce, generous slices of fresh Mozzarella, and excellent quality Parmesan ,drizzled Lira extra-virgin olive oil added at the end.  I was a little shocked at the price, $28 for a whole pizza, but I am so sick of cheaply made pizza, that I overlooked the price and enjoyed every bite! And let me tell you it is worth every $!

Spanish Baked Eggs

The morning came with rain and dark clouds. So much for landscape painting on the West Side. I decided to start the day with my version of Spanish Baked Eggs. Not unlike most mornings, I open the fridge and see what is at my disposal. Having stocked up earlier in the week at Huber's Farm, I had everything I needed.
1 onion sliced
2 tomatos, peeled seeded and chopped
1 pepper, green or red (i like red ) sliced
salt and pepper
1 clove crushed garlic
touch of red pepper paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
4 eggs
(garnish with cilantro or flat leaf parsley)
Saute onion, till soft and little brown, then add sliced peppers and tomatoes and garlic. Continue to saute. Add salt and pepper, paprika and cumin. Pour in a little water and add the paste and stir. When peppers are tender and you have a nice sauce cooking, take a spoon and open an area in the sauce and gently drop your egg. After you drop all four eggs. Cover your pan, till eggs are ready. About 4 min. Depending on how you like your eggs. I like mine medium.
Take a ladle and spoon your eggs and sauce onto a plate, serve with toasted baguette.
A perfect rainy, Saturday morning breakfast! 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Camins del Priorat at Tinto Fino

This is a yummy wine!
Medium-bodied, velvety, flavors of plum, black cherry,
raspberry and currants spiked with pepper and spice.
You can find at my favorite wine boutique, Tinto Fino . They have the best selection of Spanish wine, located in the East Village on First Avenue,  in New York. The staff is very knowledgeable and friendly and the shop is so charming, you end up buying more than you came in for. They also ship! We bought all our wine for an open house here, and our guests were amazed by the selection.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Yes, there are tons of Ratatouille recipes out there. This is just a reminder, with fresh produce hitting the stands at the Farmer's Markets, to buy more vegetables and have fun!
' Ratatouille' is among the many names that linger from the old Provencal language. This fresh recipe from the South of France is great to pair with a variety of main dishes,a crepe filling,  a bed for grilled fish, as an appetizer. Served warm or chilled. I could go on. I think I will add a pinch of my smoked paprika to give it a more Mediterranean flavor and serve with baked eggs for Brunch.

1 med. eggplant, halved and cut in 3/8" slices
3/4 lb. small zucchini, cut in 1/2" slices
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
2 medium onions , thinly sliced
1 lb.tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
2 peppers, one red, one green, cored, seeded and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
a pinch of crushed aniseed
1 tbsp chopped parsley (for sprinking)

Sprinkle the eggplant and the zucchini slices with salt and let stand for 30 min. to draw out their liquid.
Drain them, rinse with cold water and dry on paper towels.
Heat half the oil in a large casserole, add the onions and cook over low heat, occasionally stirring, until soft (not brown). Layer the onions eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers in the casserole, sprinkling with garlic, herbs, salt and pepper between the layers. Spoon the remaining oil on top. Cover and simmer for 30-40 min or until tender, if overcooked , they are soft and watery. If you do get alot of liquid remove the lid the last 15 min of cooking. Taste for seasoning.