Monday, May 13, 2019

Savory Tarts

It has been many years since I originally posted my recipe for savory tart (aka slim quiche), and since then I've gotten lots of requests for a recipe for its variants, which I tend to post often on instagram. I bake these quite a bit, as they make nice use of random greens that accumulate in our refrigerator after overly optimistic greenmarket runs. They're a great way to use up radish tops and carrot tops that would otherwise get composted. You can mix in other green odds and ends, such as different combinations of chard, kale, arugula, spinach—and feel good about cutting down on your food waste. Without further ado, the recipe. Please feel free to vary as you see fit—that's what it's all about. 
 

Savory Greens Tart
makes 1 10-inch tart 

Crust

Ingredients: 
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 3/4 cups flour (all-purpose OR 1 1/4 cup all-purpose and 1/4 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few tablespoons ice water
Instructions: 
  1. Have a 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan ready. Any shallow pie pan works, really, and you can use 9 inch (you'll just have leftover). In a food processor, combine flour and salt, then pulse in butter until it's blended in tiny, coarse chunks (pea sized). Start pulsing in the ice water a few drops at a time, until you get a shaggy mass that's just starting to pull together. Don't add too much water! Once you can press it into a ball, remove from processor and pat into a disk, then wrap in parchment or plastic and refrigerate until firm, about an hour. (*note: you can also make the dough by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour with your palms and fingertips)
  2. Preheat oven to 400°. You'll need to blind bake the tart shell. Let the dough come to room temperature for 15 or so minutes, then roll out into a uniform, thin sheet, somewhere between 1/16" and 1/8" thick. Nestle dough over and into the tart pan, pressing gently into corners and against sides. Trim excess with kitchen scissors OR, my preferred trick, roll a rolling pin over the top to lop of the excess. Press against the sides one more time. Prick bottom all over with the tines of a fork, then refrigerate some more (20 minutes or so) until dough firms up a bit. Press together any dough leftovers and use for a smaller tart, or for patching any cracks in the baked tart. 
  3. Remove tart mold from fridge and press a sheet of foil on top of dough. Fill with some sort of weight, like dried beans, uncooked rice, or even pennies. Bake in the oven 15-20 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and firm. Cool the shell and save, wrapped, for a day or so—or freeze for future use. 
Greens and feta tart

Ingredients:
  •  2 TBS butter or olive oil
  • 4 scallions, entire whites and green parts (except for roots), sliced thin
  •  Equivalent of 1 large bunch of greens, washed and patted dry. I like to use a mix of radish tops, chard, spinach, kale, arugula, etc. in whatever amounts I have. Keep in mind these cook way down, so what seems like a lot becomes next to nothing!
  • optional: 1/4 cup dill and/or parsley
  • sea salt & pepper
  •  8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, heaped high
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Chop greens into 1/2" slices, including all but the toughest stems (if you're using kale). Chard stems are quite tender once cooked. Put a large skillet on the stove over medium heat. Add olive oil or butter to pan and melt, then add scallions. Saute for a few minutes, then add your greens and sprinkle some salt over them. Saute, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and have released their liquid. Add dill if you're using, and saute a couple more minutes. Once greens are uniformly wilted, their stems are softened, and liquid is mostly gone, they're ready. Taste and add salt and pepper if they need it. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and 1/2 tsp. salt for a few minutes, til blended. Set aside. Take out the pre-baked tart shell and put it on a baking sheet. Patch any cracks that may have formed using a bit of leftover dough. Arrange greens in the tart shell, then scatter feta evenly over them. Carefully drizzle the egg mixture over the greens until they are almost, but not quite, covered. You do not want the mixture to go right up to the top, or else it will expand and overflow during cooking. Put tray in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or when custard no longer jiggles in the center. Check it after 20 minutes, turn, and continue cooking/checking every 5 minutes or so. Some like it just barely set, some prefer it toasty on top. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Turnip Hummus



It's February. Even if you were, as my family recently was, the accidental recipient of *TEN POUNDS* of candy conversation hearts via Amazon (that's a whole lotta love), nothing exciting usually happens during this month. If you're a CSA subscriber or farmer's market shopper and live where winters are cold, you can't escape root vegetables, either. You may choose to avoid them—that's understandable—or you can wholeheartedly embrace them and get creative, as we've been trying to do. 

This winter, I've had turnip hummus on replay. I know, it doesn't sound too sexy and it's probably not an actual, true hummus, but I promise it's delicious and easy, and you should try it if you're looking to put some turnips to good use. You roast the turnips whole and skin-on (my preferred way to cook beets, as well), and blend them with a liberal amount of tahini, roasted garlic, and lemon juice. If you have a more powerful blender you'll get an ultra-smooth, whipped texture, but you can use a food processor or crappy blender for a slightly more rustic vibe. The recipe: 

Turnip Hummus:

Ingredients: 
  • 3 medium turnips, scrubbed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peels on
  • 2/3 cup sesame tahini (stirred well)
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  •  1/4 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • 2 TBS olive oil (if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
 Instructions:
  1.  Preheat oven to 375°. Wrap turnips and garlic cloves loosely in a foil packet, add a splash of water, pinch the foil shut, and place in a baking dish in the oven. The garlic cloves will probably be ready in about 30 minutes, or when soft. Roast turnips for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until soft enough that a knife tip easily pierces the turnip. (check regularly, as ovens and turnips vary!)
  2. When done and cool enough to handle, chop the turnips a few times (skins included) and squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins (discard skins). 
  3. Put all ingredients except olive oil in your blender and blend until very smooth. If  tahini was very solid you may need additional olive oil. Taste for salt and add a bit more—and more lemon juice—if needed. Serve at any temperature, and add a swish of olive oil and/or a sprinkle of zaatar.
With roasted carrots
 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A word about ramps

Ramps, those stinking starlets of Spring, are here for their brief season. Chances are, if you live in the Eastern states or midwest, you can’t escape their presence on menus, in farmer’s markets, CSAs (like our excellent Local Roots), and now even in some supermarkets. The question is, are they being foraged into oblivion? There’s hot debate about that. Although they're often photographed as impossibly lush shag carpets on forest floors, many botanists and pro foragers assert that, if harvested en masse, roots and all, they can’t properly regenerate and may go the way of the dodo. Others insist they're a weed and will outlive our own destructive presence on this planet. Whatever the case, it’s best to be safe and opt for ramps that are sustainably harvested, which ideally means leaves-only, or a few bulbs taken without removing the root stock. Lani’s farm, one of my favorite NYC greenmarket vendors, sells their ramps this way. If you forage for yourself, you can do this by digging around the ramp bulb and slicing just above the woody rootstock to free it—that part's not edible, anyway. Cover the rhizome back up so it can propagate the next year.


Although ramp bulbs taste phenomenal pickled, grilled, sautéed, and cooked just about any other way, you really don’t need the bulb to enjoy the essence of ramps. The leaves, as my grandfather would have said, “will put hair on your chest”—meaning they’re pretty feisty in their own right. I whir them into pestos with carrot or radish tops, puree them in soups, and use them to make one of my favorite things ever: ramp butter. Below is a dead simple recipe for ramp butter (Try it on warm cornbread. You’re welcome.), plus a sprightly soup that makes use of all the alliums of Spring and requires just a few ramps mingled amongst their tame cousins. I throw the leaves in raw for maximum potency, but if you have an important meeting coming up or your digestion is on the sensitive side, you can simmer them in with the rest of the vegetables until they’re wilted. The color won’t be as brilliant, and the flavor? A more demure announcement of Spring.
 


Ramp Butter
Soften about ¾ stick of unsalted butter at room temperature. Chop the leaves of about 8 ramps very finely—mince them up! Fold them into the butter and mix in a nice crystally salt like fleur de sel or Maldon until you get the taste right.

 



 







Allium, Potato, and Buttermilk Soup 
Serves 6


Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek (or 2 small ones), white and palest green parts only, chopped
  • 1 small onion or shallot, or ½ med. onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 ramps: bulbs, stems, and leaves (or substitute scallions)
  • 3 medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock or vegetable stock, plus water as needed 
  • Sea salt to taste
  • ½ cup good buttermilk (not fat free)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, or to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Optional garnish: chopped chives and/or chive flowers
Instructions:
  1. Prepare ramps: Wash thoroughly and slip the outer membrane off the bulbs. Chop off and discard any roots. Remove bulbs and stems, then roughly chop them. Chop the leaves and put them aside until the very end (if you’re using scallions do the same). 
  2. In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter gently until it melts, then add the leeks, onion, and ramp bottoms. Sprinkle a little salt over them and sweat them gently for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure they do not brown at all!
  3.  Add garlic and potato and cook for about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then pour in stock. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes or so.  
  4. Once potatoes are tender, throw in the ramp leaves and whir in the blender or with an immersion blender until very smooth. If you blender is not great you can run the whole thing through a strainer afterwards.  
  5. Add the buttermilk, heavy cream, and lemon juice and add salt until it tastes right—the soup should not taste salty but all the flavors should assert themselves. If the soup is too thick, add a little water until the consistency is right. 
  6. To serve: I prefer this soup chilled but it’s good warm, too. You can swirl a little cream or crème fraîche on the top and scatter some chopped chives or chive flowers.