Tomatoes….I absolutely love them! However, as we all know, here in the northeastern United States, there is a very short season for truly amazing fresh tomatoes. What to do? Don’t be afraid of canned tomatoes. Seriously.
I used two different types of canned tomatoes for this recipe. First, I used whole peeled San Marzano canned tomatoes to make my Homemade Tomato Paste (recipe below). Why bother? Well, I was curious to see if there was a difference in taste. I think there is. (But don’t be afraid to use a good quality store bought one as well) Why use whole tomatoes when you’re just going to blitz them immediately in the blender? Because the whole ones are a higher quality than what is used for crushed, diced or pureed canned tomatoes.
Next I used diced tomatoes as the topping for this tart. Of course, if it’s tomato season, you must use fresh tomatoes, sliced thin.
Who is Noelle and why is this tart French? Noelle is a very French sounding name and was my alter ego in my mid-twenties, when creepy guys would approach me at the bar. They would get a fake name, Noelle Hollister, and if they dared ask the most banal of questions…”What do you do?”…they were told I worked for the FBI, out of the Albany field office. The tart is French because it is rather traditional to use in-season tomatoes in tart like this with a pastry crust, a brush of strong mustard and possibly some cheese.
Please…if you love tomatoes…give Noelle’s French Tomato Tart a try!
- 1 sheet puff-pastry dough, thawed according to package directions (I like Trader Joe’s)
- 1 tbsp Dijon (I like Grey Poupon)
- 1 tbsp Roasted Garlic paste (see below)
- 2 tbsp Homemade Tomato paste (see below)
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I like Hunt’s Fire Roasted), drained
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Unfold the sheet of puff-pastry onto a piece of parchment paper and roll to ¼ inch thick. Transfer parchment paper and dough to a baking sheet.
- Stir together the Dijon and garlic, then spread over the puff-pastry.
- Spread the tomato paste over the mustard-garlic mixture.
- Spread the tomatoes evenly over the puff-pastry.
- Sprinkle the tart with the goat cheese.
- Bake until the dough is puffed and golden brown, 20 minutes.
- Let cool for a few minutes before cutting into pieces.
Homemade Tomato Paste:
- 2 (1lb 12oz) cans whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes (I use Cento)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ c good olive oil ( I use O-Med Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
- Puree the tomatoes in a blender, then push through a fine mesh sieve with a spatula into a large pot, leaving behind larger pulp and seeds. (I process one can at a time)
- Add the salt and olive oil. Stir. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a low, steady simmer.
- Stirring every 15-20 minutes, reduce the tomato liquid for about 1 ½ hours.
- The tomato mixture will start to become pasty at this point.
- Once you have a loose paste, you’ll want to turn the heat up to high, stirring constantly, to eliminate the remaining moisture. This takes about 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer the paste to a glass jar. Let cool 15 minutes without the lid on.
- Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the paste and put on the lid.
- Store in the fridge. (This will last 3 months, as long as you keep a layer of oil on the top.)
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Slice off the top ¼” of the garlic bulb.
- Pour the olive oil on top of the garlic and rub all around.
- Wrap in aluminum foil.
- Roast for 55 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic out and either leave whole or mash into a paste.
Radishes…I love them raw..they are peppery and crunchy and have that “bite”.
Some of us don’t appreciate that bite…and for them there is good news…if you roast radishes, they become sweet and juicy.
Tartine…essentially a slice of toasted bread with a smear of something and then a topping of something else. Complicated, right?
In an effort to elevate the radish – at least in the eyes of Americans – I’ve created Radish Tartine Two Ways. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- Baguette, sliced
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 oz prosciutto, chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 11 oz radishes, separated
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- Sea salt
- Heat oven to 400.
- Place baguette slices on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Combine the butter, prosciutto, lemon zest and pepper in a food processor and blitz until combined. A few strokes with a spatula to thoroughly mix might be needed.
- Put the Prosciutto Lemon butter in a dish for serving.
- Take 11 oz of the radishes, trim off the tops and then halve them. Mix with the olive oil and a grinding of pepper. Toss onto the sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes.
- Take the remaining radishes and thinly slice them (2mm) and set as in a dish for serving.
- When done, slice the roasted radishes and put in a dish for serving.
- To serve, spread some of the flavored butter onto the baguette slices, then top with raw or roasted radishes and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Sunday…the day we rest from yesterday and prepare for the next several tomorrows…
A day where the fridge gets organized, cleaned out and inventory taken in preparation for the Sunday grocery run.
This particular Sunday morning I woke up hungry and wanting something nutritious….nutritious?….what about the Scrambled Eggs and Corned Beef Hash with Ketchup or Eggs Benedict I usually crave for brunch on Sunday? Apparently my body is telling me, “Oh, not today…think not upon the fault my father made”….wait, that’s Henry V…it’s just telling me, not today. Vegetables… whole grains…let’s see what we have.
Fridge and pantry scans reveal fennel, carrots, barley…oh and let’s throw a little bacon in there, it is Sunday after all. The resulting Fennel Barley “Risotto” was just what I needed. A slight chew from the pearled barley provided a hearty texture, the fennel and carrots yielded sweet flavor, and the bacon and dijon added layered flavors. So delicious and now I have lunch for tomorrow as well!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bulbs fennel, quartered and thinly sliced
- 6 oz bacon, medium chop
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 carrots, small chop
- 1 ½ c pearled barley
- 1 tbsp dijon, plus more for serving
- 1 tsp pepper (I use white)
- 3 c chicken stock
- In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat until warm. Add fennel and saute until just softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add bacon and saute 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel is very soft and bacon is cooked (it won’t be crispy).
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the carrots, barley, dijon and chicken stock, stir to combine.
- Raise heat slightly and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Serve with extra dijon on the side.
Current obsession…the Basque Country…comprised of the North of Spain and the South of France. It encompasses 8000 square miles of varied terrain, with 140 miles of coastline, divided into 7 provinces, with its very own language: Euskara. I received (a requested) cookbook for Christmas this past year, Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise by Marti Buckley. When I open it, no matter what the page, I feel as if I’ve gone on holiday…no joke. I must experience this place first hand…
Until that day, I shall transport my spirit through the food of the region. Upon scanning the book, I happened upon the recipe for Xipister, an herb-pepper vinegar sauce from the French side of the Basque Country. It’s an exuberant mix of herbs and staples like garlic, anchovies (sorry vegetarians), and ground Espelette pepper resembling a Basque pantry dump. The French Basques keep a jar of Xipister handy at all times for dressing salads, fish and especially grilled foods.
Although it doesn’t have fabulous visual appeal, the complex, layered flavors of this vinaigrette are wonderful. As made by following the recipe, it’s a bit spicy for ordinary use (in our house). In the future, I will leave out the chile for a more universally appealing sauce.
So delicious. Kept in a cool, dry place it will keep for up to 3 months.
- 1 small mild to medium-hot chile, fresh or dried
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig sage
- ½ c extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ c apple cider vinegar
- 3 salt-cured anchovies
- 1 tsp Espelette pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 garlic cloves
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 200.
- Place the chile, thyme, rosemary and sage on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to bring out their flavors.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, Espelette pepper, bay leaf, garlic and salt.
- Heat over medium-low heat until warmed to just above room temperature.
- Add the chile and herbs. Transfer the entire mixture to a storage bottle. Close and shake well. Set aside in a cool, dark place to infuse for 2 weeks.
- Shake well before using, The Xipister will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
Larry and I are going out to a special dinner tonight…more on that later…but that doesn’t mean Violet needs to suffer. Quiche is one of those amazing things…great hot, warm, room temperature and cold. Delicious any time of day and SO simple to throw together. If you’re an omnivore, I like to have 1 part meat, 1 part veg and 1 part cheese. Otherwise, 2 parts veg and 1 part cheese makes a wonderful vegetarian meal. Throw a salad of greens and vinaigrette on the side and you’re all set. In our house, everything is better with bacon…and leeks…and french cheese…hence my Bacon, Leek, & Comte Quiche.
Ingredients (Serves 2-4, depending on appetites)
- 12 oz bacon, large chop (I used Trader Joe’s Black Forest)
- 2 large or 4 small leeks, thinly sliced
- 8 oz Comté cheese, shredded
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 1 ¼ c heavy cream
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 ready made pie crust (I use Trader Joe’s)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Place pie crust into quiche dish.
- Fry the bacon until desired crispiness, set aside on paper towels.
- Saute the leeks in 1 tbsp of the bacon fat, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
- Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, pepper, salt, and nutmeg.
- Spread bacon on bottom of pie crust.
- Spread the leeks on top of the bacon.
- Sprinkle the comte on top of the leeks.
- Slowly pour the custard mixture into the pie dish.
- Cook until just set, 45-55 minutes.
- Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve hot or room temperature.
I was so excited to receive my new pink cocktail glasses today…love them!
After work, I sat down to have a martini and grabbed this book off the library shelves…and by library I mean the part of our living room where the built-in bookcase and 2 stylish reading chairs live.
If you haven’t read it, and love books about food and recipes, give this one a gander. Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and sausage-maker, cookbook author, and host of THE HANGOVER SHOW on Munchies. I absolutely love how she’s organized this book…stories of which books have made an impression on her…paired with a recipe from or inspired by the book. So, if you only have a few minutes while you’re waiting for water to boil for your pasta or while you’re waiting for your family to decide where to get take-out from…you can easily enjoy Voracious any time!
This recipe was born of necessity. I was entering an Instagram contest to win a $5 gift card to Amazing Grains and was tasked with taking a creative picture using one of their XL English Muffins. While this may not be the most creative of pictures they received, dare I say it is the most delicious. Combining my love of Welsh Rarebit with some traditional breakfast proteins yielded this oh-so-satisfying Yorkshire Rarebit. There are many, many versions of rarebit…so I did a little research and devised my own version utilizing sharp, tangy cheddar..a strong (yet smooth) beer and the slight bite of Dijon.
Ingredients (Serves 2-4, depending on appetites)
- 4 slices bacon, halved
- 4 eggs, poached
- 2 large English Muffins (I use Amazing Grains XL English Muffins)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- ¼ c milk
- ½ c beer (I use Ommegang Three Philosophers)
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce ( I use Lea & Perrins)
- ½ tsp dijon mustard ( I use Grey Poupon)
- 6 oz sharp cheddar, shredded (I use Collier’s Powerful Welsh Cheddar)
- 2 tbsp parsley, minced (optional)
- Fry the bacon until desired crispiness, set aside on paper towels.
- Poach the eggs to desired doneness, set aside in a bowl (be careful to not break the yolks)
- Slice the English muffins in half and toast lightly, set aside.
- Over medium-low heat, melt butter in small saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.
- Slowly add the milk, then the beer, whisking constantly, to prevent lumps. Let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
- Add the pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and dijon, whisking to incorporate.
- Stir in the cheddar.
- If the sauce is too thin for your liking, leave it on low to thicken, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce is ready, plate ½ of an English muffin, pour desired amount of cheese sauce over it. Then top with 2 half slices of bacon and an egg, breaking the yolk to ooze.
- If you absolutely must, sprinkle with minced parsley.
For the 11th year, the Fairport Rotary is throwing its annual Savor the Flavor of Fairport event where local purveyors of food and drink can showcase their products to all who attend. This fundraiser allows the Fairport Rotary to support many local charities.
In attendance for the 3rd year in a row are Phil and Kristina Watkins from Casa Vin Arte, a shop in the Village of Fairport where you make your own wine. Today they’ll be sampling several of their ports, cabernet sauvignon and off-dry white wines.
If you have the time, stop by Savor the Flavor of Fairport today and try the wines from Casa Vin Arte – you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t today, stop by the shop and Phil and Kristina would be more than happy to explain the process and offer a taste!
I’ve created a few cheese and appetizer pairings to go with these wines. For the cheeses, serve them with a mild cracker (I like Red Oval Farms Mini Stoned Wheat Thins) or baguette slices. (Don’t forget to let your cheese rest on the counter for an hour or so before serving for the best flavor and texture.) Give them a try and enjoy one of life’s little pleasures…wine + food.
Young Port ~ Aged Cheddar ~ 1000 Islands River Rat 8 yr (available at Red Bird Market)
Aged Port ~ Blue Cheese ~ Point Reyes Original Blue (available at Wegmans)
Flavored Port ~ Havarti ~ Castello Creamy (available at Wegmans)
Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Aged Gouda ~ Beemster 3 yr (available at Wegmans)
Off-Dry White ~ Fresh Ricotta ~ Antonio Mozzerella Factory (available at Wegmans)
Port + Blue Cheese & Walnut Crackers (recipe below)
Cabernet Sauvignon + Chocolate Fondue OR Cheese Fondue
Off-Dry White + Mini Herb & Ricotta Quiches (recipe below)
Blue Cheese & Walnut Crackers:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz blue cheese (I like Point Reyes), crumbled, at room temperature
- 1 ½ c four
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper (I like green or white)
- 1 extra large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
- ½ c walnuts, finely chopped
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and blue cheese together for 1 minute, until smooth.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour, salt, and pepper and continue beating for about 1 minute until the dough is in large crumbles. Add 1 tbsp of cold water and mix until the dough comes together.
- Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 12-inch-long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spready the walnuts on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, to distribute them evenly on the log.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and for up to 4 days.
- Preheat the oven to 350 and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Cut the log into ⅜-inch-thick slices with a small sharp knife and arrange the crackers on the sheet pan.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, until very lightly browned.
- Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.
Mini Herb & Ricotta Quiches:
- 24 mini phyllo cups
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ c finely grated Parmesan
- 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, minced
- 2 tbsp parsley, minced
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- ½ c ricotta
- Heat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the phyllo cups on 2 parchment lined baking sheets.
- Whisk eggs, Parmesan, herbs, salt and pepper together in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until soft, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Add onions to egg mixture and stir to combine. Carefully spoon egg mixture into phyllo cups.
- Top each with a small dollop of ricotta.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until set.
- Remove from oven and serve warm.
The recipe for my French Spinach Pie (Tarte aux Epinards) began it’s life as Ina Garten’s Spinach in Puff Pastry…and after years of following her recipe faithfully (because it’s amazing, let’s be honest)…I decided to play around with the flavors a little. Changing the onion to leeks, scallions to chives and adding tarragon makes a subtle, yet distinctive difference in the flavor profile of this oh-so-delicious pie.
I say it’s French because leeks, chives and tarragon are so often used in French cooking, as are the Gruyere and flaky pastry. While Herbes de Provence (marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano) are wonderful in their own right, I am rather fond of the delicate flavors in Fines Herbes (tarragon, chives, chervil & parsley) and thought they would make a nice addition to this already wonderful dish. Of course, you can find versions of spinach pie all around the world…
Greece: Feta + Phyllo pastry = Spanikopita
Turkey: Yogurt + Yufka pastry sprinkled with Sesame seeds = Ispanakli Borek
Italy: Ricotta + Sundried Tomatoes + Pie crust = Italian Spinach Pie
Lebanon: No dairy + Middle Eastern spices = Fatayar
…but if you feel like a taking a trip to the French countryside make this recipe.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 c leeks, split lengthwise & thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 (10 oz boxes) frozen spinach, defrosted
- ⅓ c chives, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 c grated Gruyere
- ¾ c grated Parmesan
- 4 eggs, beaten lightly
- 1 tbsp dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ¾ tsp pepper (I like green or black)
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ c toasted pine nuts
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water
- Heat the oven to 375° F. Saute the leeks in butter over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Meanwhile, squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl. (I use a kitchen towel and twist it over the sink)
- Add the leek mixture, chives, tarragon, Gruyere, Parmesan, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg and pine nuts. Mix well.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place it on the paper.
- Spread the spinach mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving a one inch border.
- Brush the border with the egg wash.
- Roll out the second piece of puff pastry on a floured board until it’s an inch larger in each direction. (I use Trader Joe’s Puff Pastry which comes between two pieces of parchment – no flour needed)
- Place the second sheet of pastry over the spinach and seal the edges, crimping with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash (don’t let it drip down the sides).
- Make three small slits in the pastry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned. Transfer to a cutting board and serve hot, warm or room temperature.
This is my New Years Day Chili recipe…which, to me, is the ultimate chili.
Tomato-y, beef-y, vegetable-y, bean-y … all with a depth of flavor that most chilis lack.
There is slight spice…to make it accessible to many people … you can always add more of your favorite hot sauce later, right? I use Espelette chili powder…it has a clean, bright, spiciness (2000-4000 on the Scoville scale) and comes from the Basque Region of France, which I’m currently obsessed with.
Today is February 23…it’s true…but this version of the recipe is technically number four. I’ve adjusted the types of beef and peppers a few different ways and have finally found what I was looking for. It may sound boring, but there’s a reason stew meat and green bell peppers are so often used in chili.
Ah…the Flavor Bomb Paste #2…this is what gives the chili a layered depth of flavor that is so often missing. FBP #1 was too salty…hence the second variation.
Make it on a day when you have hours for it to simmer on the stove…like New Years Day…or during a snowstorm…or on a Sunday.
- 12 oz bacon, large chop (I use Trader Joe’s Black Forest Bacon)
- 1 – 1 ½ lbs lean beef stew meat
- 2 medium onions, small chop
- 2 stalks celery, medium chop
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, medium chop
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 c red wine (I use Cabernet) or beer (I use Nitro Milk Stout)
- “Flavor Bomb Paste #2” (recipe below)
- 1 c beef stock
- 10 oz button mushrooms, small chop (I do a quick blitz in the food processor)
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded, medium chop
- 2 bay leaves (fresh, if you have it)
- 3 (15 oz) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 3 (15oz) cans beans (I use 2 dark red kidney and 1 black), drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp lime juice
Flavor Bomb Paste #2 (whisk ingredients below in a small bowl)
- ⅓ c tomato paste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- ¼ c brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 ½ tsp Espelette (adjust amount or type of chili pepper to your taste)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp pepper (I use green or black)
- In a dutch oven, over medium heat, saute the bacon until fat is rendered. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve.
- Add 1 tbsp bacon fat to the pan and brown the beef over medium heat. (It doesn’t need to be cooked through) Remove beef with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Pour off drippings.
- Add 3 tbsp bacon fat to the pan and saute the onions, celery and carrots over medium heat, stirring twice, until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Pour in the wine/beer, scraping up any browned bits and simmer over medium heat to reduce liquid by almost half, about 7 minutes.
- Stir in the Flavor Bomb Paste and cook for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld.
- Add the stock, mushrooms, peppers, bay leaves, tomatoes, beans and bacon to the pot. Stir well to combine. Chop the beef into bite-sized pieces and add them and any drippings to the pot. The chili will be rather thick at this point.
- Put the heat on low, cover, simmer 2 ½ hours. Stir every half hour.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Add the lime juice, give it a good stir and cook for 5 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with your favorite chili toppings.