Monday, May 23, 2016

Deep Dish Rhubarb & Apple Streusel

Oh my God, this is so good.

I am such a cake freak lately, I can't be without a cake in my kitchen.
Once it is gone, the late night baker has to whip up another.
Sorry for all the calories.

This simple recipe can be adapted using any fruit you like. It's called a streusel or buttery crumble in my book, sort of like a cake, but not.

So the story goes, a reader from Australia left a comment on my rhubarb tart last week and said that instead of pairing rhubarb with strawberries like we do, they pair it with apples! I liked that idea.

I found this fabulous sounding recipe for a "deep dish streusel" with apples and rhubarb in the Daily Mail.
I did the best I could with the metric to U.S. conversions and it came out perfect!

Another small issue, the UK cakes call for "golden caster sugar". This is a buttery golden colored superfine sugar, only found in the UK, so what's a girl to do?

I sought the internet for advice, and it never fails me. A few people suggested whizzing turbinado (raw) sugar in the food processor to make it fine and it was great. I think golden brown (light not dark brown) sugar would work here too.

Make sure your butter is very cold otherwise the mixture will cream into the dough, you want to be crumbly.

Deep Dish Rhubarb & Apple Steusel: (adapted from Daily Mail)

For the Crumble:

250g all purpose flour (approx 2 cups)
125g ground almonds (1 cup of almond meal)
125g golden caster sugar (5/8 cup or 4 1/2 oz)
250g chilled unsalted butter, diced (1 cup or 2 sticks)

For the Fruit:

3 medium size apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled and sliced
4 large stalks rhubarb, cut into pieces (never use the leaves, they are poisonous)
1/2 cup sugar
shake of cinnamon

Mix up fruit with the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together the flour, almonds, caster sugar and butter pieces until they resemble a coarse crumbly meal.
Make sure your food processor bowl is big enough, there is a lot of ingredients in this, mine almost overflowed.

In an 8" springform cake tin (not a 9", pay attention), distribute half the crumbly dough mixture into the pan and going up the sides. Use your hands for best distribution. Pat down so the mixture sticks to the pan.

Now fill the dough with the fruit filling, pressing down to evenly distribute.

Pour the rest of the crumble filling on top of the fruit, and again press down so it fills the pan and sides. It will form a crust when baking.

Bake for 1 hour in a 375F oven. Let rest and cool completely before unmolding cake tin sides.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Sharon's Book Tour Coming your Way! (from Normandy!)

You may all remember my friend Sharon who writes My French Country Home.

We have stayed at her gorgeous chateau and visit her in September while we are in Paris.
I have always called her "The Martha Stewart of France".

She rides horses; arranges flowers; takes visitors on garden and antiques (brocante) tours; cooks and entertains and really lives the French Country life. We Americans love to read her blog and fantasize about what it would be like to live in the French Countryside.

Well, Sharon is coming to a town near you! (not my town unfortunately).

If you are Southern ladies, get ready.

She is coming to the deep South and the West Coast and doing flower arranging and signing her gorgeous book MY STYLISH FRENCH GIRLFRIENDS.

Here is her upcoming tour schedule, I hope you will go and meet her and say hello. She is amazing.

~June 23 – HEARTH & SOUL
1410 Market St., Tallahassee, FL 32312
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET – 850.894.7685

126 S. Broad St., Thomasville, GA 31792
11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m. – 229.228.7767

89 Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. CT – 850.231.5481

~June 26 – MARKET WITH A B.
113 Church St. NE, Marietta, GA
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET – 678.426.8700

2711 Piedmont Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET – 404.266.8700

1525 NC-107, Cashiers, NC 28717
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET – 828.743.0263

4101 N. Mulberry Dr. – Kansas City, MO 64116
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. CT – 816.746.4320

23588 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, CA 95476
3:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m. PT – 707.935.8553

122 N. Harbor Blvd., Suite 104 & 105, Fullerton, CA 92832
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. PT – 714.888.5811

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finally, a Rhubarb Cake....w/ Cinnamon & Almonds

For the past month I have been admiring other bloggers' beautiful creations made w/ the celery look-a-like bitter stalk known as rhubarb.

Jealousy. I want some. I need to move to Arizona where they already have peaches in season.

I have been calling my local farmers here in the "Garden State" all month asking "do you have any rhubarb yet?".
"No, sorry, not for dinner tonight, just plants for the ground".

We have such a short growing season here in NJ, and I am very happy as well as very impatient for the crops to come in.

I got a tip off that my local Sunday farmer's market had dressed in my Sunday best (slippers and a baseball hat) I ran down to buy some, but I was too late for the pretty pink stuff. "Sorry m'am, only the ugly green stalks left".

At 9:30 a.m, I was too late.
The early bird gets the worm, and in this case, the rhubarb.

I bought it anyway. Beggars can't be choosers.

Rhubarb is kind of bitter if you haven't noticed, that's why people pair strawberries with it to sweeten it up, and they are usually in season at the same time. But strawberries aren't ready yet here either (blah blah).

I decided to make a rhubarb almond cake with some cinnamon in the mix.
It came out delicious. Just sweet enough and even though most of the rhubarb sinks into the batter, you get the point. It's in there.

If you don't have an 8" square tart pan (and really, who does?), then make this in a 9" pie plate or 8" springform cake tin.

Rhubarb Cinnamon & Almond Cake:

2/3 cup of softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup of almond meal (or ground almonds)
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
5-6 stalks of rhubarb, preferably the same widths, cut into pieces

cinnamon & sugar (about a 2 tbsp total) mixed with a tablespoon of warm water for the glaze

Butter an 8" square or round cake tin or pie dish. I lined mine with parchment paper for easy lift out.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the butter w/ the sugar, eggs and extract until fluffy. Add in the almond meal, cinnamon and combine.

Add in the flour and baking powder last and mix to make a thick batter.

Spread into the prepared pan.

Decorate the top of the cake with rhubarb, I tried for a chevron herringbone design..........

In a small bowl, add a tablespoon of warm water to about a tablespoon or more of sugar, sprinkle in a shake of cinnamon. You want to make a paste, not really a syrup. If it is too wet, add in some more sugar.

With a pastry brush, brush the paste glaze over the rhubarb and top of the cake.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or more or until the cake is puffed and golden.

Let rest in the pan for about 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Cut into squares and serve w/ yogurt or whipped cream.

Henry has planted me this annoying weed for next spring, so I never have to complain about being without it again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Crostini w/ Truffled Pea Puree and Burrata

Since I know you made yesterday's recipe for truffled pea puree, you must have some leftover!

Don't despair. Leftovers are good.

Spread some of that wonderful pea pesto on toasts.

Plop some burrata on top and sprinkle w/ sea salt & lemon zest.

A drizzle of good olive oil and a basil or mint leaf and you have a delicious lunch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Roasted Broccoli Quinoa Salad w/ Marcona Almonds

What DOESN'T quinoa go well with?
I have paired it with just about adding it to roasted broccoli just seemed normal to me.

We loved this combination. If you haven't tried roasting broccoli, you are missing out. It is revolutionary (well, maybe that's going a bit too far, but it is delicious!).

I like finding new greens to use in I used Chinese red spinach, also known as amaranth. New to me, but so pretty, I had to buy it at the Asian market. Also threw in some wintercress flowers which were foraged by Henry!

Roasted Broccoli w/ Quinoa & Marcona Almonds:

1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
olive oil & kosher salt for roasting
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups water
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup Marcona almonds
big handful of watercress or Chinese red spinach (also known as red amaranth)


juice of a lemon
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & pepper

Whisk dressing with a fork, and set aside.

Cut broccoli into florets and drizzle w/ olive oil and kosher salt on a heavy sheet pan. I line my pans with parchment paper lately for easier cleanup.

Roast the broccoli at 400F for 20 minutes, turning them over one time during roasting.

While the broccoli is cooking, make the quinoa. Add 2 cups of water to the quinoa and simmer about 20 minutes until liquid is evaporated. Fluff up with a fork and add to a big bowl.

Add in the cooked broccoli and Marcona almonds to the cooked quinoa in the bowl.
Pour the dressing over this mixture and season with sea salt & pepper.

Add in the amaranth or watercress at the end. Scatter some crumbled feta over the top.

Best served at room temperature.

My new favorite quinoa salad!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Steelhead Trout w/ Truffled Pea Puree & New Potatoes

I am a pea lover (sounds strange).

I make a version of these mushy peas every spring when fresh peas are available.
I love it on toast with mozzarella cheese and on's delicious.

Make up a batch of the pureed peas in the morning, and then sear up some fish and dinner is ready in 10 minutes. It's so easy.

Here, I used steelhead trout, which looks like salmon, but is more mild tasting.

You can use salmon or another fish like trout or even scallops for this recipe.

I omitted the mushrooms in the recipe, which would have been extra nice, but Henry hates mushrooms. :(

Steelhead Trout w/ Truffled Spring Pea Puree & New Potatoes: (adapted from Honest Cooking)

2 six ounce pieces steelhead trout, (salmon, halibut, sea bass or scallops)
10 baby new potatoes (the small red ones)
1 shallot, diced
8 ounces mushrooms (cremini, shiitake or morels if you can get them)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
salt and pepper

Spring Pea Truffle Sauce:

2 cups fresh shucked peas, blanched briefly (or use frozen)
1/2 cup water (you might need a tbsp more)
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon truffle oil (this really gilds the lily)
sea salt & black pepper
1 small garlic clove
⅓ c fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil, mint or flat leaf parsley (I used basil)

Make the sauce.

Blanch the peas in salted boiling water for 2 minutes only. Refresh in a colander with ice, to retain the nice green color.

Puree the ingredients in a food processor. You don't want a thick pesto, more of a smooth puree, so add in some more oil or water to thin it so you can spread it on the plate. Transfer the puree to a small saucepan.
You can make the pea puree ahead of time and keep in the fridge. You can reheat it in a saucepan before serving.

Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until tender and set aside. Cut into quarters.

While the potatoes are boiling, saute the mushrooms (if using) in some butter with the shallot for 5-7 minutes.

Season the fish with kosher salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy non-stick skillet and cook the fish skin side down for 5 minutes. I use a splatter screen......flip over for another 2 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, reheat the pea puree on low in the saucepan to warm.

Spread some of the warm peas on a plate and scatter some of the potatoes around.

With a fish spatula, place a piece of seared fish on top of the potatoes and top with the sauteed mushrooms and shallots.

This is a beautiful and delicious spring dinner, showcasing seasonal fish and seasonal vegetables (morels and peas!).


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fig & Almond Cake

So Mrs. Fig (that would be me), bought a huge bag of organic dried figs at Costco.
Why do I do this?
We are 2 people, and can not possible eat all those jumbo size items.

I have plenty of fig cakes in my repertoire, but browsing the New York Times recipes, I cam across David Tanis' recipe for fig and almond cake.

He uses fresh figs, but that's not happening anytime soon here in NJ, so I would try it with my dried figs.....and instead of grinding the almonds, I would use almond meal.

I added lemon zest to the batter, because why not, I like lemon zest.

This is a very simple cake to throw together for the late night baker. I forgot to add in the honey, which did not make a difference, since I upped the amount of on the link to the original recipe if you want to follow it, otherwise, just make the cake with my additions, it was so good.

It is moist and delicious, and the figs and almonds go so beautifully together. I can't wait to make this in the summer with fresh figs.

Fig & Almond Cake (adapted from The New York Times):

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (I used 1 cup of almond meal)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
zest of a lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
12 to 14 ripe or dried figs, cut in half

Heat oven to 350F degrees.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan; set aside.

Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; pulse to combine.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey and almond extract. Add almond mixture and beat for a minute until batter is just mixed. Pour batter into pan.

Remove stem from each fig and cut in half. Arrange fig halves cut-side up over the batter. Sprinkle figs with sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden outside.

Delicious warm or at room temperature and great with ice cream :)


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad w/ Arugula & Peas

What to do with all that beautiful Jersey asparagus this month?

I am happily eating it daily, but I know my time is running out, it is such a short season.

When you get fresh picked asparagus, you can eat it raw, and it tastes delicious.

Here, I took an idea from Food52 and shaved my asparagus into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (cut the tops in half and shave them too).

Toss with some spring peas and arugula.

The original recipe uses feta, but I used shaved Parmesan curls.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the salad components and sprinkle w/ Maldon salt and pepper.

Drizzle w/ good olive oil.

That's it folks.

Spring in the raw, at it's best.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easiest Asparagus Tart w/ Leeks & Bacon

This little asparagus tart will make you very happy.

There is really no crust involved, which is my least favorite thing to, I used dried breadcrumbs for a nice crisp exterior crumb.

If you don't have one of these fancy schmancy rectangle tart pans, then of course, use a round one, or even a glass Pyrex pie dish. Anything will work.

The tart pans w/ removable bottoms, such as this one, sometimes leak, so that is why I made a breadcrumb crust, to hold in the filling.

I used the first batch of Jersey asparagus, a big difference in flavor from the stuff from Central America. I could eat it raw, it is so good.

This is very basic, but lovely enough for a brunch or party. I think the rectangle pan makes it look even fancier!

Asparagus Tart w/ Leeks & Bacon:

6 slices of bacon
1 large leek, sliced thin, white parts only
2 tbsp butter (divided)
1/2 bunch of asparagus (about 8-10 spears), trimmed and peeled
7 eggs
1/3 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano
salt & pepper
handful of breadcrumbs

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave and with a pastry brush, brush the tart pan all over the nooks and crevices with the butter.
Add about 2 tbsp of dried seasoned breadcrumbs (the kind in the tall can are fine) to the buttered tart pan and shake all over to adhere the breadcrumbs. It's ok if some of the crumbs fall off.

Lay the prepared tart pan on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp, crumble and set aside. Drain the grease out of the pan and add in the other tablespoon of butter.
Saute the leeks on medium heat until soft and creamy. Let cool.

Whisk the eggs with the cheese in a large bowl and add in the cooled leeks and bacon, saving a few pieces of the crumbled bacon for the top after the tart is done.

Pour the filling into the prepared tart pan and lay the trimmed asparagus spears on top.

Bake at 325F for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let rest in tart pan 10 minutes before removing the bottom.

Slice into thin slices and serve with reserved crumbled bacon on top.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

I am not a big fan of leftover chicken thighs. The dark meats tends to be greasy and not good for chicken salad the next day (just my humble opinion).

Here is a great rescue for leftover thighs.
You make a nice Asian style sauce and mix it in w/ some julienned vegetables.

Wrap them in some butter lettuce (aka Boston lettuce or Gem lettuce) and a delicious dinner is made.

Here's how to make 6 lettuce cups.


2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
small garlic clove, shaved on a citrus zester

Whisk together with a fork and set aside.

For the Lettuce Cups:

1 head of Boston or Butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated (they will look like baskets)
4-5 cooked chicken thighs, shredded
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
a bunch of scallions, sliced
2 radishes, sliced
fresh chopped cilantro
shake of sesame seeds

In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken w/ some of the sauce (you will probably have sauce leftover).

Add in the vegetables and mix w/ the chicken. Add in more sauce as needed (taste as you go).

Spoon the chicken salad into the lettuce leaves.
Sprinkle w/ sesame seeds and a slice of radish and fresh cilantro leaves.

Drizzle w/ more sauce and serve.