Pain d'Epices with Epoisses

When sitting in a French cafe for lunch in Beaune and they place a plate full of green lettuces with a spiced cupcake full of cheese in front of you......that's something you'll never forget. Here is Julia Child's recipe for Pain d'Epices. Hers calls for using a loaf pan, but we love them as muffins. Because they are very low in fat, they will hold up for up to a week on the counter in a container. And remember what Julia always said, "Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all, have fun."

  • 1¼ cups honey
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • ¾ cup almonds, ground fine
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • ½ tsp each: ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp grated fresh orange or lemon peel
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Generously butter bottom and sides of a muffin tin. No not use pan spray. Don't be afraid of the butter! Set aside. (you may use a loaf pan or springform cake pan)
  3. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the honey, sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved. Then beat in the baking soda and salt. Add half the flour and beat about a minute.
  4. Gradually add the remaining flour and continue to beat 2 minutes more on medium speed. The batter should be stiff and sticky.
  5. Reduce the speed on the mixer to slow and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan; smooth the top with a damp or spatula.
  6. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. At this point, put in 1/2 ounce pieces of Epoisses into the middle of each muffin. Continue baking for 30 more minutes.
  7. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted in center emerges clean.
  8. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If using a springform, release the pan sides; otherwise unmold the cake and place on a rack, top-side up. Cool for about 2 hours or until completely cool, then wrap well in plastic.

Julia recommends waiting at least a day or more before serving. For the best flavor and texture, age the cake for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 1 month in the freezer.

Apple and Celery Salad with Fresh Chevre and Hazelnuts

This is adapted from one of our favorite cheese-centric cookbooks: The Cheesemonger's Kitchen by Chester Hastings. We like the texture and tanginess of the fresh goat cheese better. And, of course, we are in LOVE for real with the Hazelnuts from Piedmont.

  • 1 medium bunch celery
  • 1/2 lemon, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeszed lemon juice
  • 2 large, crisp apples, we love the honeycrisp
  • 4 tsp local honey
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 oz fresh, Haystack Mountain Chevre, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup Piedmontese Hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the celery well. Pull away the outer stalks to get to the pale, green interior stalks - save the outer stalks for soups or stocks. Separate the interior stalks, leaves intact, and slice on an angle about 1/8 inch thick. 

Fill a medium mixing bowl with cold water. Squeeze the half lemon into the water to acidulate it. This will prevent the apples from oxidizing. 

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place the apple slices directly into the lemon water as you cut them.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice and shallot. Dry the apple slices on a clean kitchen towel. 

Place the celery and apple in a mixing bowl. Add the hazelnuts and the honey/olive oil dressing. Season with pepper and taste for salt. After you put it in your serving bowl, top with the crumbled goat cheese.

 

 

Mozzarella Without Tomatoes

This early into Spring, it might sound nice to have a juicy Caprese Salad. While it is one of our favorites in Summer, sometimes in the Spring the tomatoes just aren't sweet enough. here's 5 ways to enjoy your mozzarella without tomatoes:

1. Spring Pea Puree. Take the freshest peas you can and pulse them in a food processor with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few red pepper flakes. Spread on the plate before placing your Mozzarella on top. 

2. Grilled Peppers. After slicing your peppers into large strips, rub generously with olive oil. Place on a hot grill until just charred. Salt and pepper on the plate with the mozzarella.

3. Balsamic Strawberries. We love you, Alice Waters! This classic flavor combination is one of our favorites. Take clean, fresh strawberries and top with a good balsamic vinegar and a bit of sugar. Allow to macerate for up to 30 minutes. Place on top of your fresh mozzarella.

4. Make a classic guacamole and serve with your fresh mozzarella on grilled toast.

5. Fresh Herb Pesto - collect all the greens you can from your Spring garden: tarragon, chives, dandelion, mint, etc and pulse in a food processor with olive oil and nuts like almonds or walnuts. Serve generously with your mozzarella and toast points. 

Ricotta Crostata

The Easter and Passover holidays are the markers for Spring. Seeing fresh, local Ricotta is also another marker! We have a tasty recipe that will surely impress your brunch guests this weekend. 

Taken from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook (our newest obsession) and modified to include fresh Ricotta from Moon Hill Dairy in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We know this will be a keeper!

For the Filling:

  •  2 cups local Ricotta
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons candied orange peel, cut into small pieces

For the Crust/Pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon grated citrus zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Whisk the ricotta, sugar, egg, rum and vanilla together in a medium bowl until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and orange peel. Set aside.

For the pastry: Combine the flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, egg, egg yolk, zest and vanilla on low for 5-7 minutes, scraping often.

Add the dry ingredients and gradually bring the mixer to medium speed for 1 minute.

Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a 1/2 inch thick disk. Cover tightly and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and as long as 8 hours. When ready to roll out the dough, allow it to sit unwrapped for a few minutes at room temperature, until slightly pliable.

When dough is ready, dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Spread the ricotta filling into the crust. Take extra trimming from the dough and place in strips on top of the topping in a criss-cross pattern.

Bake the crostata for 35 minutes or until the top has puffed up and browned up nicely. Cool the crostata in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from the outer ring and continue to cool on the rack. Best served slightly warm while the chocolate is gooey. 

 

Goat Cheese and Rhubarb Cookies

This fantastic recipe comes from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey. 

I don't know about you, but my rhubarb is already peeping through!

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 oz fresh chevre, room temperature
  • 1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated or chopped zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 stalk rhubarb, sliced 1/4 inch thick (yielding about 50 pieces of fruit)

Heat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the goat cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed until the sugar is nearly dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat on low until creamy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl. Fold in the dry ingredients until the dough just comes together.

Drop large balls of dough onto the cookie sheet 3-4 inches apart. Press 3-4 pieces of rhubarb into the top of each cookie. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies just start to color on the top.

Yields 15-18 large cookies. 

 

Carrot Breadsticks

I just went to the library on Saturday and I'm obsessed with a few cookbooks we got. One is The Soup and Bread Cookbook by Beatrice Ojakangas. I even bought some Rye flour so I can make the pretzels!

I'm not really a soup girl, much to Rob's dismay, so I'm more interested in the bread recipes. Although, I will give a few a shot. Today I made two batches of the Carrot Breadsticks. The first batch was inhaled by the boys while they were still hot, so I made the second just for me. I did make a few modifications, which, really, all cooks should. Instead of making "sticks", I made little biscuit rounds. Also, I added way more cheese, carrots and butter. What?!

  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano (I used a combo of Pecorino Romano and Parm, but just use whatever cheese you have around. This is a good recipe to get rid of your bits and pieces.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used 3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I used caraway, mostly because I was out of cumin and caraway is a natural compliment to carrot.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot (I used almost a cup)
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (I used almost 3)

Now that I look at the changes I made, there's a lot! But, both times I made them, they turned out great. That, to me, is a sign of a great recipe. Here's the instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or just lightly spray a baking sheet.

In a food processor, grate the cheese(s). Add the flour, butter, cumin/caraway, baking powder and salt. Process until the dough comes together into little bits/peas. Add the carrots and pulse until well combined into the dough.

Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball. I let it go another 5-6 pulses, just to make it  more flaky.

Roll the dough into an 8" square about 1/2 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the dough into whatever shape you want. I made circles, but I also have a fluted edged cutter that was nice. You can also do sticks then gently twist them. 

Feel free to pack them into the baking sheet. They don't spread at all, but they do rise a bit. 

Bake until crisp, or the underside of each is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the pan. (Or, feed them to your children while they're hot.)

Enjoy! These would be great with cheeses, soups or a bit of savory jam. Let me know how yours turn out!

-Karin

Stilton Soup

Thank you, Diane, for sharing this fantastic recipe with us. I will make it in your honor this Winter!

  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, cleaned and slices
  • 1.5 oz flour
  • 3 Tbl dry, white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 oz Stilton Cheese, crumbled
  • 2 oz English Cheddar Cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbl heavy cream.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and soften, but do not brown. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat for at least 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in wine and stock. Return to moderate heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. 

Push through sieve or puree in a blender. Return to heat and add the milk and both cheeses, stirring constantly. Season to taste. Puree again if a smoother soup is desired.

Reheat without boiling. Add cream when ready to serve. Homemade croutons or crostini are highly recommended to serve.

Serves 4.

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake

Thank you, Joy the Baker, for this fantastic recipe. I made no changes to it because it's perfect! Also from the same cookbook/blogger, the No-Cookie Cookie Ice Cream is incredible. She recommends using a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, greased and floured (I used cornmeal). You may also use a 9x9 cake pan.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (lemon or basil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (not necessary if using flavored oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

in a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, eggs, brown sugar and (optional) nutmeg. Add the olive oil mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or pan. Lightly press whatever toppings you've chosen into the top of the batter. 

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

The cake will keep, well wrapped and at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

Truffled Turkey

According to Martha Stewart, the way to season your turkey under the skin is: "Loosen skin: Working from the neck end, slide fingers under skin until you reach the end of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin" . Thanks, Martha. We'll get right on that!

Shave some of your fresh truffles and lay them out on some butter. Once the skin of your bird is loosened, use a long skewer or the end of a wooden spoon to push in your shaved truffle slices. Use that now flavored butter to rub on the skin of the bird for extra flavor. 

The truffle flavor will permeate the entire turkey! Bon appetite!

 

 

Baked Squash

We love baking squash!! It's easy, it's quick and always impresses. Here are some varieties we love and the cheeses that are best:

  • Delicata Squash: Cut lengthwise and scoop out center. Add to this: leftover rice mixed with sausage, more vegetables that you love, fresh, chopped grated pecorino romano over the top. 
  • Acorn Squash: Halved and roasted with a bit of water, open side down until soft. When cooked, add in some cooked Italian Farro, tomatoes, dried apricots and a heavy amount of thyme. Top with grated Gruyere 1655 and broil until warm and bubbly. Finish with Tondo Balsamic Glaze.
  • Butternut Squash: Peel and cut into cubes about 1 inch square(ish). Toss with salt, pepper, olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Roast in hot oven until cooked through. Toss the squash throughout the cooking. When finished, put in a pretty bowl and grate heavily some Manchego. Parsley to finish.

Pastina

Pastina is what your Nonna gives you when you're sick. It's creamy and buttery....I like it with shredded chicken. You can make it as thick or thin as you would like, but we usually make it fairly thick with a bit of fresh chicken stock poured over the top. Use the traditional star shaped pasta for extra points.

  • 1/2 cup pastina
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated cheese like Parmigiano, Fontina or any of the Pecorinos in the case
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Bring two cups of stock to boil in small saucepan.
  2. Add pastina and salt and cook until most of the water is absorbed, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in egg, letting it cook in the hot pasta. Temper it in slowly so you don't get scrambled eggs!
  4. Add butter, cheese and pepper. I like to top it with a bit of warmed stock, chicken or other protein.

Alplermagronen

Alpler....what?! Alplermagronen is Swiss for "Holy Moley, this is the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had." Well, that's our translation! If you've ever visited a friend in Switzerland or wanted to be impressed by someone from Switzerland, they will make you this dish. It is creamy and savory and sweet and smelly all at the same time....kind of like me! (Karin)

This recipe comes from one of our Swiss importers in New York. They are on a campaign to "Save the Emmentaler" and they are doing a fantastic job! Visit their website here. For the month of November, let's make a pact to eat as much Swiss Cheese as we can. 

Alplermagronen

  • 2 Onions, in rings
  • 2 garlic cloves, slices
  • 2 cups waxy potatoes, in cubes
  • 2/3 cup bacon/pancetta/porky goodness

Roast all in a cast-iron skillet until brown. Set aside.

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1# pasta: They use something like penne or similar tube like shape

Boil the vegetable stock and cream together in a pot. Add the pasta and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

  • 2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese like: Schalenberg, Schnebelhorn, Urnerboden Alpkase, Vacherin Fribourgeoise, Raclette, Gruyere 1655, Emmentaler or Tete du Moine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Stir in the cheese into the pasta, then stir in the bacon/onion mixture over the pasta.

Serve with applesauce. If you really want people to know what you're doing, stir in your applesauce into the cheesy noodles all together. 

A big thanks to Joe at Gourmino for the recipe! Stop by the shop to see which cheese you like best for your Alplermagronen. (extra points if you say it with a Swiss accent!)

Ribollita

When the last thing in the garden is Kale and there's snow in the forecast, this soup makes the best dinner. While there are many recipes, we go back to the classics, like this one from Foods 52 and Lydia Bastianich.

  • 3tablespoons olive oil
  • 2cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1onion, chopped
  • 1/4teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • 1carrot, chopped
  • 1rib of celery, chopped
  • 28ounces (1 can) plum tomatoes
  • 1teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1potato, peeled and diced
  • 1pound cavolo nero, or any other variety of kale, trimmed and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 15ounces (1 can) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6thick slices of country bread, torn into pieces
  • 4cups water
  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and crushed red chili pepper flakes. Sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Toss in the carrot and celery with a pinch of salt and sweat the vegetables 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, trim the hard stem ends off the tomatoes and discard. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  4. Pour the tomatoes (and their juices) into the pot with the thyme, potato, and 3 cups water. Bring the soup to a simmer, turn the heat down and partially cover with the lid. Keep the soup at a low simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Toss in the kale with another cup of water, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the canned beans and continue to simmer the soup 5 more minutes.
  7. Stir in the bread and serve with a drizzle of spicy Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. The soup should be thickened by the bread, but not at all dry.

Pane Bianco

I think they should have called this bread "Pomodoro Basilico" because it is absolutely filled with tomatoes and basil, not so 'Bianco'. This recipe is super simple and easy to adjust the fillings to accommodate any flavors. Ones we are going to try: Walnut/Cranberry, Pesto/Walnut/Tomato, Chocolate/Cinnamon, Ground Beef/Curry.....

We found this on the King Arthur website, which is fantastic. 

DOUGH

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour*
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

FILLING

  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese or the cheese of your choice
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or your own oven-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, green or purple
  1. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a bowl (or the bucket of your bread machine), and mix and knead — by hand, using a mixer, or in your bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a smooth, very soft dough. The dough should stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl if you're using a stand mixer.
  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until it's doubled in size.
  3. Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the tomatoes, patting them dry. Use kitchen shears to cut them into smaller bits.
  4. Gently deflate the dough. Flatten and pat it into a 22" x 8 1/2" rectangle. Spread with the cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
  5. Starting with one long edge, roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the log seam-side down on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Using kitchen shears, start 1/2" from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center about 1" deep, to within 1/2" of the other end.
  7. Keeping the cut side up, form an "S" shape. Tuck both ends under the center of the "S" to form a "figure 8;" pinch the ends together to seal.
  8. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Uncover the bread, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  11. Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

English Muffin Bread

I love baking, but bread can sometimes be a challenge. This recipe, however, is fantastic and easy and super consistent. I love that it makes two loaves, because it gets eaten quickly, especially with two boys in the house! It's from a great blog called Restless Chipotle. The recipe is below with my experiences and notes changed a bit.

  • 5 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups warm milk
  • Butter and cornmeal for greasing and dusting the pans
  1. Mix the yeast, honey, and water in the bowl of your mixer. Set aside.

  2. Sift the salt, baking powder, and flour.

  3. Add the milk and one cup of the flour to the yeast mixture.

  4. Blend well.

  5. Add the remaining flour and beat for 5 minutes.

  6. You should have a very soft, goopy dough. Yes. I said goopy.

  7. Spoon the dough into 2 loaf pans that have been greased and dusted with the cornmeal.

  8. Set aside in a warm place until the batter has doubled and is at the top of the pans, or a little above. This may take 30 to 45 minutes.

  9. Preheat the oven to 425F

  10. Dust the tops of the loaves with cornmeal and bake for 15 minutes or so. Loaf will sound hollow when tapped.

  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes if you want a crisper, more golden crust.

  12. Cool and slice.

Try pairing this for breakfast with Deliciousness Pinon Cherry Jam!! It's one of the best jams we have in the shop and is perfect!

Cantal Rye Bread Soup

Soup season has been slow coming, this year. It's not the first time, though, we've eaten dinner of soup at night with the doors open, just to make it a bit cooler in the house!

One of my favorite soups is made with Cantal and Rye. I describe it like a French Onion, only with more bread, cheese and cream on top! It's from a fantastic book called The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert. It's survived decades of book purging because it's just that great!

  • 10 OUNCES CANTAL CHEESE

  • 3 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER

  • 4 MEDIUM-SIZED ONIONS, FINELY CHOPPED

  • 1-1/2 QUARTS WATER OR VEGETABLE BROTH, BOILING

  • 1 TEASPOON SALT

  • FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

  • 1/2 POUND STALE DARK RYE BREAD, VERY THINLY SLICED

  • 1 CUP CRÈME FRAÎCHE OR HEAVY CREAM

Carefully cut the cheese into very thin slices. Using a vegetable peeler may give you the thin slices needed here. Or you may grate the cheese.

Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the boiling water or broth and the salt, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed and black pepper to taste. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F

Using all the bread and cheese, layer the slices alternately in the bottom of a flameproof 3-quart earthenware casserole. Pour in the onion broth. Cover the casserole with its own lid or with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. (Individual ovenproof soup bowls may be used instead; baking time is then reduced to
15 minutes.)

Take the casserole out of the oven, and turn on the broiler. Remove the lid from the casserole and pour the crème fraîche or cream over the soup. Place under a broiler for a few minutes until golden brown, then serve immediately.

Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Every week, Karin hits the library with the boys and we get new books. It's a time for them to see how important reading is, but also a time for me to explore new cookbooks- new to me, that is! April Bloomfield's "A Girl and her Greens" is a fantastic take on classic recipes using seasonal vegetables. 

We recently had Louie and Regan Colburn over, from Ohana Island Kitchen, and Rob made the best dinner from ingredients from the garden. The standout was the stuffed peppers. We thought it could use more white anchovies, but we say that about most things. Here's the recipe:

  • 8 small red bell peppers, halved, lengthwise, seeded and deribbed. Green stem nubs left intact
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 salt-packed, whole anchovies (we used the white anchovies from the shop. we recommend using 16 anchovies, placing two in each pepper instead of one.)
  • 16 large basil leaves, plus extra, torn for finishing
  • 16 small to medium tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, fancy and flaky as possible
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450F

Find a heavy, enameled baking dish that will fit the peppers snugly and arrange them cut sides up. To each half, add 2 or 3 slices of garlic [2] anchovy fillet, a basil leaf and finally a tomato.

Sprinkle on the salt, add several grindings of pepper, and evenly drizzle the olive oil over everything. Pop the dish in the oven and cook until the edges of the peppers go wrinkly and a bit toasty and the flesh is creamy, 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 20 minutes and every 10 minutes or so thereafter, give the tomatoes a gentle press with the back of a spoon so a little juice squeezes out, then baste the peppers. 

Remove the peppers from the oven and let them rest in the baking dish until they're just a bit warmer than room temperature. Baste them once more, then carefully transfer the peppers to plates or a platter, drizzle on the liquid remaining in the pan and sprinkle on the torn basil.

Serve warm to room temperature.

 

Italian Easter Cake- "Pastiera Napoletana"

We love any holiday where cakes are involved, but Easter is a great time to gather with family and friends for a Springtime celebration. 

This recipe comes from Foods 52, which is a fantastic resource for unique recipes with unique ingredients. I have copied the recipe here, but you may also find it on their website HERE.

Author Notes: Whole wheat berries are cooked in milk until creamy, then mixed with ricotta, sugar, eggs, candied citron and a heady mix of spices and scents -- cinna (…more) —Emiko

Serves 10

For the pastry: 

  • 1 stick (125 grams) unsalted cold butter
  • 2 cups (250 grams) of flour
  • 1 whole egg, plus one yolk
  • 3/4cup (100 grams) of powdered sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Chop the cold butter into small pieces and pulse together in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and lemon zest and knead just until the mixture comes together. If you find it a bit dry, add some cold water, a tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough; if it's too wet, add a bit of flour. Cover in plastic wrap and rest at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the filling:

  • 10 ounces (280 grams) of cooked wheat berries or about 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of uncooked wheat berries
  • 1 cup (230 milliliters) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of butter
  • 12 ounces (350 grams) of fresh ricotta (a combination of cow's milk and sheep's milk ricottas are traditionally used)
  • 1 3/4 cups (320 grams) of fine sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, plus two yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) candied citron, finely chopped
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

[Cook the Farro according to package instructions.]

Place the cooked wheat berries in a saucepan over medium heat with the butter, milk and lemon zest. Bring to a boil gently, stirring occasionally until it becomes very thick and creamy like oatmeal, about 15 minutes. Let cool until needed.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and extra yolks with the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and orange blossom water until creamy. Leave this mixture to rest several hours (better if overnight) in the fridge.

Fold the cooled wheat berry cream and the rested ricotta mixture together with the finely chopped candied citron.

Roll out about two thirds of the pastry and place in a 10 inch (25 centimeter) greased springform tin. Cut off any overhang and add to the remaining pastry, roll out again and with a pastry crimper wheel, cut long strips about ¾ an inch wide.

Fill the pastry base with the ricotta mixture and even out the borders of the pastry to the level of the mixture. Lay the long pastry strips gently across the top to form a a criss-cross diamond pattern (not square), pressing the strips on the edge of the pastry very gently. If desired, you can brush the lattice gently with some egg wash to make it shiny.

Bake the pastiera for 1 hour at 390ºF (200ºC) until the pastry is golden and the pastiera is amber-brown on top.

Allow to cool completely inside the springform pan before removing or chilling. Ideally serve the pastiera the next day (remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating to take away some of the chill) with some powdered sugar sifted over the top. Store any leftovers in the fridge.