Cherry Galette

Bing Cherry Galette

Alright, I lied a few posts ago when I declared that the cherry granita was the last cherry recipe I would post during this year’s cherry season. I still have a couple of pounds of cherries left and I craved a cornmeal crust cherry galette.

While I love pie, and certainly ate my fair share of it growing up since my mom is the pie queen, I gravitate more towards open pies like tarts, galettes, and crostate. I do not have a definitive reason for why I prefer them except that they are less fussy–in my opinion–because there is only one crust to deal with.

Whole grain galette dough with whole wheat pastry flour, corn flour, and cornmeal

Related to the single crust issue is how the fruit in the galette behaves during cooking. It tends to caramelize better and release its juices better than in a double crust pie. I somehow imagine the fruit in a tented pie steaming and boiling, as opposed to a galette’s juices, which bubble around the edges and caramelize. The uppermost fruits–whether apricots, peaches, pears, or cherries–deepen in color and crispen a bit. For me it’s the same effect as roasting vegetables with an aluminum foil tent, or roasting them with no lid at all. Butternut squash, for example, becomes mushy in the former, and perfectly cooked, yet sweet and lightly darkened in the latter.

Galette ready for folding

Finally, in what seems to be me taking a stance for open-tarts, the galette is better adapted to other fillings like frangipane, pastry cream, and custards as a backdrop to the fruit. And you do not need to fit the crust into a pie pan–simply cook it at whatever size you like on a cookie tray.

Filled galette ready for baking

My galette differs from a traditional one because of the crust I have developed. I have mentioned this elsewhere, but unless I am really seeking the flavor of unbleached white flour, I do not use it automatically in every recipe. My galette dough is no different. Over the years I have adapted my favorite cornmeal crust recipe to include a bit of whole wheat pastry flour and corn flour as well.

Delicious cherry juice that caramelized on the parchment.

The crust results in something that could truly stand alone as a (not-very-sweet) cookie dough for the rich flavor and texture that results from the mix of these whole grain flours. I cannot get enough of it. For a spur-of-the moment dessert, I usually make a double batch. I make one of the galettes that night and then freeze the other dough for when I am really pressed for time, but MUST HAVE A DESSERT (which is pretty much every night).

Don’t forget to brush the edges of the crust with either cream, milk, or water and then sprinkle some Demerara or regular sugar over it. It adds a lovely sweet crunch. And I can vouch that this cherry galette has met its soul mate in apricot kernel ice cream.

First piece of cherry galette

Cherry Galette

(Makes two 9 inch galettes).

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1/4 cornmeal (preferably stone ground, like Full Belly Farm’s)

1/8 cup corn flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

7 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into tiny cubes

3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons creme fraiche, yogurt, buttermilk, or sour cream

1/3 cup ice water

 

Fruit Filling

1 1/2 cups pitted cherries (or any kind of fruit you like)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces

 

Sugar Crust

a little water, milk, or cream

2 teaspoons Demerara or regular sugar

 

To prepare the crust, whisk the flours, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together and then add the tiny butter cubes. Using two forks or a pastry blender, incorporate the butter into the flours until little pea-sized lumps form. In a little bowl combine the ice water and creme fraiche. Slowly pour this into the flour-butter mixture, stirring with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.

Knead the dough four or five times in the bowl and then pour it out onto a lightly floured surface. Unless you want to make one very large galette (in which case double the filling above) separate into two equal portions. Pat each portion out into two four or five-inch disks and then wrap well with plastic wrap. Freeze one for another day and refrigerate the other for at least and hour.

Preheat the oven to 385F degrees. Roll out the dough to an 8 or 9 inch circle and carefully place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If the dough is too thin, it will crack and the filling might come oozing out, but if it is too thick you will not get the lovely cookie crunch of the crust. Leaving a 1 1/2 to 2 inch border, lay the pitted cherries in the middle with the tablespoons of sugar, honey, and butter sprinkled over the top. Carefully fold up the sides, gathering them bit by bit and pinching the folds.

With a pastry brush, brush the edges of the galette until wet and then sprinkle the remaining sugar over it. Cook for about 35 or 40 minutes, turning half way. Enjoy with softly whipped cream or apricot kernel ice cream.

Posted in Cherries, Dessert, Rustic Fruit Desserts, Uncategorized, Whole Grains | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Apricot kernel ice cream with honey-roasted apricots

Apricot pit ice cream with honey roasted apricots

Last year I collected hundreds of cherry pits from my June and July farmer’s market cherries with the aim of making cherry pit ice cream. This pastry chef waxes poetic (and X-rated) about the alluring, phenomenal flavor of the kernel inside cherry pits, taking the sexual metaphor regarding the reward for the effort put into extracting the kernel to its fullest. After I smashed several dozen of them, however, I immediately hucked the whole heap into our compost bin. If you have several hours to kill, go ahead and try making the cherry pit ice cream and let me know how it turned out. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am never faced with several hours to kill so I probably will not be making that one very soon.

Apricots from Alemany market

Apricot pit or apricot kernel ice cream, on the other hand, seemed much more realistic. Since I also buy several flats of apricots each year, usually Blenheim, I am happily familiar with the heady smell of the apricot kernel. This is my fourth year making apricot jam and one trick I always have for making it is crushing the apricot pits, extracting some of the kernels, which are doppelgängers for almonds in both sight and smell, and cooking them in a little cheesecloth in the jam. I remove them at the end and proceed with canning the jam.

Apricot pits

The flavor the kernels impart to the jam is similar to that of almonds or almond extract, but not quite. It is mysterious. Beautiful. And….dangerous. Actually, in large quantities, there is a toxic chemical called prussic acid, a.k.a. cyanide. Apparently you can toast them at 350F for about ten minutes to remove the chemical, but you need to have such large doses to cause harm that I have never bothered.

Since the only things I have ever used the kernels before have been my jam recipes, my revelation that I could make apricot kernel gelato induced an new obsession. I cannot stop imagining the fabulous recipes where I could swap in a couple of apricot (or other stonefruit) kernels where almonds are called for….or not called for, just for fun. Frangipane, amaretti, meringues, panna cotta, cantucci, pancakes even! That being said, I have known about a traditional Piemontese roasted peach dessert (“Pesche alla piemontese”) with amaretti that calls for the kernel for a long time, but never thought of making it myself.

Exposed apricot kernels

Here are a few pointers if you feel like experimenting. For maximum flavor with minimum stonefruit pits, you need to extract the flavor slowly. Typically this involves bringing whatever liquid you have to a boil (jam, cream, milk, simple syrup) with the smashed kernels in it and then taking it off heat to sit for several hours (or minimally 30 minutes if you are making jam). If you are making cookies, I recommend using a mortar and pestle with a tablespoon or so of boiling water, much like one would do when preparing saffron threads for a Persian rice dish.

Messy ice cream maker

As for my ice cream, I prefer Italian style gelato over American ice cream. Gelato is much lower in fat from the use of a higher percentage of milk than cream, uses whole eggs over mere egg yolks, and is slower churned, which results in less air being incorporated into the ice cream itself. American ice creams tend to be richer and airier. Incidentally, my favorite vanilla ice cream recipe from my grandfather happens to be just like an Italian custard cream gelato (as opposed to a fruit sorbetto or fior di latte, which typically has no eggs). The only rate limiting step (literally) when making this gelato/ice cream is your ice cream maker. The more modern makers have speed options, in which case choose the slowest possible setting. If you cannot choose, do not fret since the ingredients are the most important part of my recipe.

Finally, this ice cream elevates any warm stonefruit dessert from pies, cobblers, crisps, tarts, and upside down cakes to another level. It reincorporates the noyaux flavor from the pit back into your dish and tastes heavenly. I will be posting just such a dessert soon, but until then save a couple of apricots (not yet pitted or they will brown) to roast with honey and eat them with your ice cream. It may be my favorite dessert of the summer (thus far anyways).

 

Apricot Kernel (Noyaux) Gelato with Honey-Roasted Apricots

Notes: I encourage organic milk and half and half simply because in a dessert where the dairy flavor is showcased, you want the very best tasting stuff. Also, try to make the ice cream at least an hour before serving just to harden it up a bit before. Feel free to substitute other stonefruit pits or mix them up if you do not have enough of one or another.

Gelato

3 cups organic whole milk

3 cups organic half and half

30-40 apricot kernels

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 -2 tablespoons flour

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

The day before you want to make the ice cream (or at least the morning of), put all your pits into double sealed plastic bags, take a hammer and crack each pit once to remove the kernels. Place the crushed kernels into a pot with the milk and half and half. Bring the milk almost to a boil and then take off of the heat to sit for a couple of hours or overnight. AFter it has steeped for several hours, use a mesh sieve to remove the apricot pit by pouring the liquid through it and into another pan.

Bring the infused dairy mixture back to almost a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and salt and then slowly whisk in the flour until you have a very smooth mixture. Take half a ladle of the hot milk mixture and quickly whisk it into the egg-sugar-flour mixture, slowly add the rest of the dairy, constantly whisking and then pour all of it back into your stove pan and cook on medium for about 6 or 7 minutes until the liquid thickens up like a light custard. Remove from heat, strain the liquid once more through a fine mesh sieve and then refrigerate the ice cream base until cool and ready to make your ice cream.

Process the ice cream base according to your ice cream maker’s directions and then place in a container in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

 

Honey Roasted Apricots

1 apricot per person

1 teaspoon of honey per person

Cut each apricot in half. Place cut side up on a roasting pan and put half a teaspoon of honey in each whole. Cook on high in your toaster oven or preheat your oven to 400 F degrees and roast for about 6-7 minutes. Serve with a scoop of apricot kernel gelato.

Posted in Dessert, Icy things, Recipes for Egg Whites | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cherry Granita with Almond Cream and Caramel Crunch

Cherry granita with almond cream and caramel candy crunch

The past few weeks I have been enjoying trying out new desserts with the first of the summer stone fruits.

Cherry Clafouti

Pluot breakfast focaccia

The cherries have been wonderful and I ended up buying yet another huge flat of them last week with which I have been devising seemingly endless recipes. Most of my recipes begin with one obsession plotted out over several days. Knowing that we would finally have a pretty warm Fourth of July celebration last week, I settled on an icy cherry dessert with a little cream.

Granita is one of those dishes that I never remember when planning dessert. When concocting a frozen dessert I usually reach for my ice cream machine, but granita is so simple, refreshing, and delicious that I decided to try out a newfangled cherry version this July.

Last winter I fell hard for a clementine granita parfait by pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick, of the phenomenal Sofra cafe and Oleana in Boston. Remembering this parfait, but wanting to evoke all aspects of the cherry I decided to make an almond cream with a cherry granita base. I will talk more about this in my next post, but one of the unsung flavors of virtually all stonefruit is the almond-redolent seed inside of the pit. In fact, imitation almond extract is usually made from these smell-alike and look-alike stonefruit seeds. If you go to the trouble of cracking the hard shell and extracting the seeds inside, smell them. The strength of the odor of an apricot seed, for example, is impressive.

As for the granita proper, you can omit the lime juice, but cherries are so sweet that I really love the tang that the lime juice provides to counterbalance it. The caramel candy is a cinch to make, even on the hottest of days since it only requires a couple of minutes over the stove and then you are done.

One last cherry recipe before they are gone baby gone. Enjoy!

Caramel crunch on cherry granita

Cherry Granita with Almond Cream and Caramel Crunch

Cherry Granita

3 cups pitted cherries

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 limes

Almond Cream

1 pint organic (not ultra-pasteurized) heavy whipping cream

2 drops almond extract

1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Caramel Crunch Candy

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

Granita. Make a simple syrup out of the water and sugar for the granita. Simply bring them to a boil and then let cool. In a food processor like a Cuisenart, blend the cherries and simple syrup together until they are very smooth. If you like a lot of lime flavor, zest the limes and add that before juicing them. Add the lime juice from the limes. Put in a large container in the freezer and stir with a fork every hour for about three hours. May store in the fridge until ready to serve. If done ahead of time, let unfreeze a little bit (15 minutes or so) until it becomes slushy before serving.

Caramel Candy Crunch. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. In a pan, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring or jostling until it begins to darken to an amber color. Stay attentive because it goes from clear to black and burnt in a matter of a minute. Once it has this nice dark amber, quickly and safely pour the syrup onto the prepared, sprayed parchment paper, tilting it to spread it thinly. Thick pieces of candy just do not taste as good in this dessert. Let cool for at least 3o minutes and then store or break into large pieces to serve immediately.

Almond Cream. Whip the cream until soft (not stiff) peaks form and then add the powdered sugar and almond extract. May store in the fridge until ready to serve.

To assemble the dessert, place the whipped cream on the bottom, followed by the granita. If you have those really long champagne cocktail glasses, you can repeat another layer of cream and then granita and finally top the whole thing with one or two pieces of the broken caramel crunch and serve.

Posted in Cherries, Dessert, Icy things | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ambrosia Muffins with Peach Preserves

Whole wheat peach, orange zest, almond paste muffins with homemade peach preserves

I have only posted about muffins once on La Cuoca Ciccia, but it is simply because I do not want this site to feature muffins only. We make muffins over here once a week at a minimum. It was only today, as I decided to experiment with some almond paste that has been hiding in the back of my pantry, that I realized I have not made a plain white flour muffin in years.

Dry ingredients for the muffins

While I certainly do not eschew white flour (nothing beats it in Belgian waffles or ciabatta, in my opinion), when I make muffins I am simultaneously searching for a flour or flours that add depth of flavor and a little more nutrition when feeding my family. The barely- there bitterness of whole wheat, sweetness of oat and barley flours, or the fruitiness of buckwheat flour is not just like substituting flours, but rather like adding another spice or a handful of berries. (Right now barley and millet are my favorites.)

One perfect yellow peach

When crafting this muffin I was inspired by several recipes for cakes that add grated almond paste and I thought that the nutty almond flavor would taste fantastic with the nuttiness of whole wheat flour. My favorite guys from Ottolenghi have a marzipan-plum compote muffin that adds a bit of orange zest, which sounded very Sicilian, so I decided to add a bit of that too.

Grating almond paste

Orange zester

Finally, with my bushel of organic peaches from the San Francisco Alemany Market, I had made a large batch of peach jam. My son requested that we put some (read: half a jar) on our muffins so I decided to spoon a bit of that into the muffins as well. To me the almond-peach-orange zest combination with whole wheat flour was just heaven. This is not a cupcake my friends. It is not too sweet, especially given my kids’ inclination to marry the muffins with a lot of jam, but does not necessitate extra sweeteners. A large dab of phenomenal butter (especially cultured butter) melting in a little pocket of the muffin made me think of ambrosia.

Homemade peach preserves

A few little starting notes. As with many of my recipes, you can play around with this muffin a lot. For starters, if you do not wish to make homemade peach preserves, there is no shame in buying some. If you prefer a different flavor, go with it. For example, if you made the cherry preserves last week, this would be excellent combined with lime zest instead of orange zest. Lastly, if you like your muffin a little sweeter, you can add a bit more sugar, as indicated in the recipe below.

Ambrosia muffin with homemade peach preserves

Ambrosia Muffins with Homemade Peach Preserves

Muffin

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 250 grams)

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (about  200 grams)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Zest of 1 organic orange

Juice of 1/2 orange

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, plus a few tablespoons to sprinkle on top for a crunchy topping

2 eggs

6 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (about 80 grams)

1 cup milk (about 270 ml)

60 grams almond paste (a little more than half of one of those logs)

4 tablespoons peach preserves

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and butter or spray every other muffin tin of two 12 capacity muffin tins. This helps for even baking.

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, preferably with a pouring spout, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and orange zest until thoroughly blended, then add the milk and melted butter. With a coarse grater, grate in the almond paste and roughly mix. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl and fold in gently until it is just incorporated. Add the peach preserves and mix for another 6 or 7 turns and stop.

Fill the sprayed or buttered muffin tins (every other one) 3/4 full and then sprinkle 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of brown sugar on the top of each one and cook for about 20 minutes, turning the two trays forward to back and top to bottom half way through the cooking.

As soon as a toothpick comes out clean, remove from the oven. Let sit for 1 minute and then give each one a little twist to loosen and then remove them and let them perch on their sides so that they do not steam and become mushy. Serve hot with a large dab of salted butter and more peach preserves spooned on top, if you wish.

Peach Preserves

This recipe is all about proportions and simple technique. I weigh my peaches and then add 1 cup of sugar for every 3 pounds of peaches. This yields a not-too-sweet preserve. If you like a classic sweet peach jam taste, aim for more like 1 cup of sugar for every 2 pounds of peaches.

6 lbs organic peaches, yellow, white, or a mix

2 cups organic sugar

1 cup water

2 lemons

If you are canning the jam with a traditional water bath method, boil some water in a huge pot. Otherwise, just boil 6-8 cups of water in a pot and then add a couple of peaches at a time for 1 minute. Remove and let cool enough to slip off their skins. Repeat until all the peaches are skinned.

If you have very ripe peaches you can almost squeeze the pulp off. If not, pull the peaches apart and chop roughly with a knife and then add to a large cooking pot along with the sugar and put on medium-high heat until the peaches have released their juices. Turn up to high and stir every three minutes until the temperature reaches 210F degrees. Squeeze in the fresh lemon juice, stir for a couple of minutes and then take off of heat.

Store in the fridge for many weeks, or in containers in the freezer for many months, or can with water-bath according to jar’s directions for over a year.

Posted in Breakfast, Jams & Preserves, Jams and Preserves, Whole Grains | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Outdoor Market in Ivrea, Italy and an Apricot-Nectarine Cobbler with Two Kinds of Cherries

Apricots, Nectarines, Bing and Rainier Cherries

Do you remember your first farmer’s market trip? I may be a bit green to recall the resurgence of outdoor markets, greenmarkets, and farmer’s markets in the past couple decades, but I can profess that farmer’s markets have been one of life’s most indulgent pleasures for me since I was a little girl. Our seasonal (April-October) market in my hometown of Novato was magical for me. It was there that I ate my first peach scones from the now defunct Skully’s bakery, bought my first mixed lettuces with flowers (“Really? We can eat flowers?!”), my first gyro with garlicky yogurt sauce, and I inherited my mother’s propensity for buying flats of fragrant, red strawberries…and raspberries….and yellow raspberries…and three melons for the price of one. I cannot recall which activity that I or my three sisters were doing those Tuesday afternoons, but I will always remember angling to crash the farmer’s market and buy dinner there.

Equally memorable for me, but for entirely different reasons was my first Italian farmer’s market way back in 1994. One of the most beautiful memories of my life was traveling to visit our Italian relatives in Ivrea with my family, and at various times with my grandparents and my uncle and aunt. I was, as my sisters would all vehemently testify, an unfortunately gawky teen, but it was undoubtedly my awakening, the explosion of my obsession with food.

Formaggio Provolone

Fortunately for us, our trip to Ivrea coincided with the large Friday outdoor market. We came in mid-June, virtually the same time as our recent trip. The stalls were flooded with stonefruit (which I loved even then), strawberries, and figs–the first perfumey, fragile, beaded-with-drops-of-nectar figs I had ever eaten.  But oh the punitive scowls I received when I dared to actually touch!! a peach to see if it was the correct ripeness. No touching the produce at Italian markets. I further realized that this was no Novato, California market as I ogled at whole rows of live chickens, vegetable plants for sale, and locals peddling a little of this and a little of that from their own plots in the foothills. But what killed me was all of the dairy products. Each vendor drove in a mobile, cooled hut full of Alpine yogurt, milks, butter, and cheese. Oh the cheese just killed me.

Formaggio Grana

Have you ever had toma cheese from Piemonte? It is a mind-blowing cheese. I only have  had one in the U.S., sold by Cowgirl Creamery at the San Francisco Ferry Building market, but if you can get ahold of a Piemontese toma, you will be one step closer to paradise. Almost all of them are cow’s milk (but I had a heavenly, nutty, medium-soft one blended with sheep’s milk too).

Another inimitable Piemontese cheese is a fresh log of tomino, which my family loved to serve sliced into little rounds surrounded by valeriana, (similar to mache or lamb’s lettuce here in the U.S.), and dressed with rich, fragrant extra virgin olive oil and a lavender-thyme sea salt. Heaven, I tell you. And true fontina from Piemonte? My husband, a formaggiophobe complete eschews it, but a rich, stinky, almost eggy (go with me here) fontina is mandatory for a perfect polenta, in my opinion. These cheeses were embossed upon my brain when I returned a couple of years later and then to study at the University of Bologna for a year in college. I kid you not when I tell you that I gained over ten pounds that year. Sigh… It was worth every luscious gram of fat.

Furtively and egregiously shot 24 hr a day watermelon stand: Angurioteca da Mimmo

Latte crudo self service?! (Self-serve raw milk?!)

I thought I had seen it all at an outdoor market. I mean, if I wanted, up until last year I could have bought one of those caged chickens off the back of a truck near the Alemany market on Saturdays here in San Francisco. For the price of my firstborn child I can get virtually any edible fungi at the stall at the San Francisco Ferry Building. I can buy honey produced in San Francisco by a San Francisco beekeeper’s bees. And I can get raw milk and cream at a few places for around eight or nine dollars per quart when I make cultured butter, clotted cream, or homemade mozzarella (more on those soon). But a self-service raw milk vending machine?! And only 1 Euro for a liter of it! It took me at least thirty seconds to realize that I had to photograph it as evidence that it actually existed.

A full two weeks before we had cherries (read: under $8/lb) here in Northern California they had flooded the foothills of the Italian alps. My son, though he thankfully loves mushrooms like Mamma, despised the cheeses that my daughter, parents, and I lovingly savored.

Feasting on durum wheat loaf, cherries, cheese, and strawberries

He did make one not-so-surprising request though–apricots and cherries.

Albicocche e ciliegie al mercato d'Ivrea (Apricots and cherries at the Ivrea market)

We ate these hand over fist the day before we picked twenty something kilos of cherries from my family’s cherry tree at the vigna, “vineyard” in the hills. We all have a cherry problem clearly.

Stone fruit for the cobbler

In honor of my Italian family and the stonefruit we bought at the Ivrea market a couple of weeks ago I leave you with a cobbler recipe that I (barely) adapted from my mother. In the pie department no one holds a candle to her and in the past decade or so she has begun to conquer the world of crumbles and cobblers too. Enjoy this phenomenal, last minute dessert of the season. You can make it with absolutely any fruit you have on hand. Just be attentive to juicy berries and add a dash more flour.

Finished cobbler

Caramelized fruit in the corner piece of the cobbler

Stonefruit Cobbler   OR

Nectarine-Apricot Cobbler Recipe with Bing and Rainier Cherries*

Notes: You can use pretty much any combination of any fruit for this cobbler, adding a bit less flour to the fruit for fruits like apples or pears. Just aim for roughly 3 cups of fruit. It is a rustic dessert so it is fine to vary.

1/2 cup Rainier cherries sliced in half and pitted

1/2 cup Bing cherries sliced in half and pitted

8-10 Apricots, sliced in half and then slice each half lengthwise again into 3 or 4 pieces

3 Nectarines, sliced

1/2 cup plus 1 cup sugar (plus more for the top, about 1/4 cup)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

2 tablespoons plus 2 cups flour

1 1/2 cubes of butter (12 tablespoons), just melted

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. In a large, rectangular baking dish toss the sliced fruits with 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, if using.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine about 3/4 cube (6 tablespoons) of melted butter with the remaining 2 cups of flour, baking powder, salt, and egg. Pour this mixture over the top of the fruit, pour the remaining 3/4 cube of melted butter (6 tablespoons) over the top, and then sprinkle with either 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon, if using or just 1/4 cup of Demerara sugar.

Cook for about 40 minutes, turning halfway, until the fruit is bubbling and caramelized in the corners and a skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Posted in Cherries, Dessert, Rustic Fruit Desserts | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

New Potatoes, Peas, and Peppercress Salad

Peas, New Potatoes, and Peppercress Salad

We planted our peas in February and counted every milestone we could invent: First sprout poking through the ground. The number of peas shoots that made it past the onslaught of slugs and snails in the first two weeks. The first tendrils to curl themselves around our fence. The first lightly scented white blossom. And finally our first full pea-pod. I never dreamed that each of the “Tall Telephone Garden Pea” seeds we ordered in the winter would live up to their name.

I have been tying down fallen the top two or three feet of each plant because they have overgrown the fence. If I staked them properly they would grow ten feet tall (which is great in my son’s opinion because he is waiting for the “pea stalks” to grow tall enough to climb into the clouds). I would guess that each seed ended up producing about thirty pea pods. Luckily my children are pea maniacs so we never are short on ideas of how to use them up.

My little helper, shelling peas for our dinner.

I should add that most afternoons since we made this garden in late January, my son and I spend at least an hour out there together for some mother-son time while my daughter finishes her nap. It has been one of the most wonderful parts of being a parent. Yes we dig, we weed, we plant, and we harvest. We also tell stories (that always include members of his imaginary and growing gang of 100 something friends saving the day). We drink special concoctions of honey-milk-tea or lemonade depending upon the weather. Finally, we enjoy the beauty of the garden that day and assess how each plot is growing, imagining what it will look like when my son….ahem, garden, grows up.

Empty peapods in a sand bucket

For those of you who think peas are just hum-ho, a freshly shelled pea is almost an entirely different vegetable. When you pick them small, the little peas are so sweet that you can eat them raw. This variety has been amazing, however, in that the ones we have let get larger are still fantastically sweet–nothing like those frozen supermarket guys. I love putting them into one of my favorite pasta dishes with mushrooms, parsley, prosciutto, and cream or a vegetable risotto, but last night I wanted something that featured the plethora of peas that my son proudly picked. (Now I am reciting “Peter Piper picked a peck of peppers” to myself.)

Salad with new fingerling potatoes, peas, pistachios, and peppercress

I decided to make a slightly warm dinner salad with barely cooked blanched peas and new potatoes (Rose Apple Finn, a fingerling variety). I have rhapsodized on new potatoes before, but I enjoyed them even more last night, mostly because we had more of them, two even the size of the larger peas! The reality is that those two vegetables stand alone with just a dusting of salt and either butter or wonderful extra virgin olive oil. I couldn’t resist fancying it up a bit more, however with some wild arugula, regular arugula, and peppercress all from our garden as well. Add a handful of toasted pistachios and you are ready to go.

When you make this you have two ways to serve it. You can serve it cold/room temperature, by tossing the cooked peas and potatoes into ice water to cool them down or you can serve it warm, without rinsing them at all after cooking. If you go with the warmer option, add the lettuces immediately before serving because they will wilt (especially if they are fragile new garden lettuces). Eat with fresh, homemade ciabatta with fantastic butter.

Pea, potato, pistachio, and peppercress salad with homemade ciabatta

New Potatoes, Pea, and Peppercress Salad

(serves 4-6)

2 pounds New Potatoes, preferably small fingerlings or very thin-skinned fingerlings

1 to 1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas

1 small bunch of either peppercress, landcress, watercress, or arugula (or a mixture)

1/4 cup toasted pistachios

3 tablespoons of your favorite extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional, I didn’t use this time)

Sea salt to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the new potatoes, skin on. Depending upon the size of your potatoes they may take anywhere from 5 minutes to 10 minutes to cook. Pierce them with a fork and bite into one (cooled!) to see if they are done. Add the peas to the potatoes for the last minute of cooking and then drain all together. If you are serving the salad cool or room temperature, plunge them into a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes. If not, just set aside to drain in a colander and proceed.

Place the potatoes and peas into a serving bowl and add a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons, and the lemon juice, if using. Toss them all together and then add in the salad leaves of choice, pistachios, and salt, tossing lightly to coat. Serve immediately.

Posted in Dinner, Peas, Salad, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Homemade Cherry Preserves

Some of my 20lbs of cherries

I may have mentioned before that we really like cherries over here. The guys that I usually purchase cherries from at the Alemany Farmer’s market said that they will linger around only one or two more weeks at best. I may have also mentioned I have a serious fruit-buying problem. Deadly serious.

I have only been home for two Saturday farmer’s markets since returning from our trip and I have bought three flats (yes, about 36 overflowing baskets) of organic strawberries and a whole lot of the first peaches, plums, pluots, and apricots. But last week, the Bing cherries looked so good that I decided to get a whole box of organic cherries. I expected a really steep price for such a huge box of lovely organic cherries. They were selling smaller quantities for about $2/lb, which I considered to be a pretty great deal (considering that the San Francisco Ferry Building market has vendors selling non-organic cherries for $6/lb…seriously!), but when I asked how much for a twenty pound box and they said $20, I could not keep my poker-market face.

“Does $20 sound fair?”

“Sure,” I responded trying not to seem overeager at the amazing offer.

Bing cherry

Folks, if you do not inquire, you will never know what kind of deals you could get for inordinate amounts of fantastic fruit. Even if you are a small household–i.e. one person–this is what you can do with a flat of cherries:

Candy some for later. Freeze some with pits for pit-in desserts like clafoutis and freeze some after pitting for cobblers, cakes, tarts, and pies. Use the pits for cherry pit ice cream. Make pastry cream tarts with fresh cherries and cooked frangipane tarts with several-day old ones. Make cherry muffins or scones. Or funky preserves with crazy add-ins like cherry pits/almond extract, lemon verbena, or candied lemon rinds.

Did you know you can pit cherries with this?

Hard-worked, opened paperclip

But that the walls of your kitchen may end up looking like this?

Yellow tiles on the wall behind my sink (backsplash?)

To make my preserves, I pitted 10 pounds of Bing cherries, but I used a wonderful method that I have done twice now with my strawberry preserves. The key to really fresh-fruit preserves and a bright jewel red color is minimal cooking time. Just as overcooked vegetables turn a dingy color, so do the fruits in an overcooked jam.

Bing cherry preserves

To acquire a perfect, no pectin-added, cherry preserves, you need either tart apples like Granny Smith or Pippin, or lemons. If you don’t mind a runnier preserve do not bother with either. Next, I have found that you need to add the cherries to high heat sugar so that they keep their gorgeous color without muddling. To do this I follow my favorite strawberry jam trick, which is to make a very hot simple syrup and let it bubble away before tossing in the fruit.

Pit as many cherries as you feel like pitting. You basically open up a medium or medium-large paperclip (if you do not have a fabulous cherry pitter like the OXO one that my husband brought me mid-pitting, awwww). Hold the large side in your hand and push the smaller side straight up the middle of the cherry, starting with the side the stem was on. It only makes one hole in the cherry so if you want to cook a tart you can place the cherries hole side down.

We have already spooned this into plain yogurt for a decadent breakfast and lunchtime treat and smeared it over my new favorite homemade multigrain crumpets. I am thinking about making a gateau basque with these or swirling them into a caramelized white-chocolate ice cream. I only urge you to sour the cherry preserves up a bit with a substantial amount of either lemon juice or even some apple cider vinegar (as you would with apple butter) to balance the intensity of sweet cherries. This is a very tasty, very special spread.

Cherry jam

Cherry Preserves Recipe

3 1/2 lbs of sweet cherries (Bing, Rainier, etc.) washed, stemmed, and pitted (see Note above)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Juice of three lemons (or two whole lemons, cut into halves), or 4-5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 slices of Pippin or Granny Smith apples (optional, I didn’t do it this batch)

Prepare ahead: Put a small plate in the freezer. If you like a more uniform cherry preserve, you can cut up some of the cherries before adding them in.

Gently stir the sugar and water together in a large heavy-duty pot (I like my Le Creuset monster for this) and cook on medium-high heat. Make sure the pot is much larger than you expect you will need because the mixture will double in height as it bubbles away. Once you see the surface of the sugar-water is covered with bubbles, carefully add in all the cherries (and the lemons and/or apple slices if using) and stir completely with a wooden or silicon spoon every two or three minutes until the cherries give up their juices. Add the lemon juice if you didn’t use the lemon halves.

Once the pot has turned to liquid, cook another 20 minutes, stirring the mixture every 5 minutes and scraping the bottom so that nothing caramelizes and burns, which ruins the flavor of the preserves. (If, however, this happens, just do not scrape the bottom into the preserves. Simply pour the jam into another pot and keep cooking.) Once the temperature of the jam registers 210F degrees, take a little spoonful and put it on the frozen plate. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes and see if the jam is the consistency you like. I tend to prefer strawberry jam at 210F degrees, but I like to cook the cherry jam closer to 220F to thicken it up a bit. Remove the apple slices and lemon halves, if you used them.

Pour into sterilized jars according to manufacturers’ directions. This jam will keep for several weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it, or can them, which is really easy to do.

Posted in Cherries, Jams & Preserves, Vegan | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Focaccia to Dream About

Dreamy focaccia

There are a lot of focaccia recipes floating around out there and many of them are pretty good. Others, are not so great. Some are just glorified pizza doughs overladen with toppings and others are drenched in oil…vegetable oil! Yuck.

After my first visit to Liguria many years ago, I had perfect focaccia. The kind that I wanted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes I preferred mine topped with olives and other times with caramelized onions (Italians do not mix focaccia toppings the way Americans do), but I always came back to the plain for testing the real quality of fantastic focaccia.

Fully risen focaccia dough

First, it must have a lingering flavor that is not of flour, but rather an almost sour, barely there tang. Second, the texture must be perfect.

The outside must have the slightest bit of crunch while the inside is doughy without being underdone, a quality that bakers describe as “chewy,” but that word never sounds all that palatable to me. This hard-to-explain inner texture is the mark of a truly fantastic focaccia because it means that it has been kneaded (or beaten, in my case) until unfathomably long strands of gluten develop in the dough so that, despite its very high water to flour ratio (i.e. a very wet, almost batter-like dough) it has a unified texture. It results in a sort of webbing of dough so that each bite has tiny little pockets of air without huge bubbles. The dough is incredibly stretchy and elastic.

Rosemary Focaccia

I have been on the hunt for a perfect focaccia recipe for over a year now. This week I tinkered with a recipe that I made four times in about as many days. The long rise adds the same lingering flavor as I described in my ciabatta bread and the 20 minute “kneading” time in the mixer develops an incredible texture. Now the most recent non-Ligurian, but still Italian focaccia that I have eaten is from a little bakery in downtown Ivrea. The texture is not quite as perfect as the focaccia I had been in search of, but the flavor balance spot on. The final secret to my ideal focaccia is medium-large bits of sea salt generously sprinkled over the top of the dough.

It may seem like a ridiculous amount of salt to sprinkle on top, but keep in mind that you will not be putting any salt at all in the actual dough as it rises. The contrast of the salt flavor and crunch with the bread itself is magnificent. So much so that the last piece of focaccia from my last loaf was carried off by a horde of pigeons last night after our picnic dinner in Golden Gate Park. Live it up pigeons.

Perfect Focaccia

All-purpose unbleached flour, 585 grams or 4 generous cups

Instant yeast, 1.8 grams (1/2 teaspoons) or 2.25 grams (5/8 teaspoons) regular yeast

Barely warm water, 3 cups minus 3 tablespoons (663 grams)

Extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 tablespoons (40-50 grams)

Fleur de sel or larger (coarse) crystals of quality sea salt, 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons

Rosemary (optional)

In a standing mixer (Kitchen Aid or similar) with the paddle attachment, mix the flour and yeast on low-speed, slowly adding the water until it is a unified dough, about 1 minute. Turn the speed up to medium (4 or 6 on a Kitchen Aid) and beat for 20 minutes until really long strands of dough appear and the dough forms into a sort of ball. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. As long as you really let it beat for 20 minutes you will be fine.

Oil a large bowl and scrape the dough into the bowl for its first rise. If you are quick about it, you an even lift the entire dough on the paddle from the mixer and drop it in one mass into the oiled rising bowl. Let it rise in a medium heat (75-80 degrees, I usually put it in my unlit oven to proof) for about four hours until it doubles its size.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet, about 12 x 17 inches with about 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil, taking care that every surface is covered, I use a pastry brush or my bare hands. Carefully scrape the risen dough from the bowl into the baking sheet so that you don’t deflate the dough. With oiled fingertips, try to stretch the dough to the corners. You won’t succeed. It will shrink back a bit because of the gluten. Try again in 10 minutes and then call it, it will mostly fit into the pan fine while cooking.

Cover the pan with a lid or greased plastic wrap and let rise until double for about 1 1/2 or 2 hours. About an hour into this final rise, place a baking stone onto the lowest level of the oven and turn it on to 475F degrees to preheat for about an hour. When it has doubled in size, drizzle the last 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top and sprinkle the sea salt from about a foot above the dough (just to disperse the salt evenly). If you desire you can add other toppings like minced rosemary and you can dimple the dough with oiled fingers for a classic look. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the dough is a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and eat immediately or let it cool and serve later. I’ve heard pigeons adore it.

Posted in Breads, Uncategorized, Vegan | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

What to Make with Your Herb Garden: Lemon Verbena Green Tea and a Fava, Pea, Artichoke Salad with Parsley and Thyme

Spring fava, pea, artichoke salad with garden herbs

Alright, this post is a two-fer, food and drink. One of my favorite things about having a garden again is having fresh herbs. I believe for two bucks you can get three sprigs of organic cilantro at Trader Joe’s or for about three bucks a bunch of organic parsley from Whole Foods. I use fresh herbs almost daily so I had to drastically curb my fresh herb habit over the past three years of garden hiatus (a.k.a. having two children and finishing a PhD while husband finishes medical fellowship) to avoid going bankrupt.

Lemon Verbena

Actually, the only edible things to survive the immense neglect were some of my herbs. Two lemon verbena bushes, rosemary, oregano, and thyme are my champions who weathered three years of no weeding and only rainwater. This year I added chives, dill, cilantro, two varieties of parsley, tarragon, peppermint, chervil, and some indoor basil (since it does not appreciate the shockingly cold San Francisco summer fog days). I think I am out there snipping a bit of this and that six out of seven days of the week. (That seventh night often being reserved for In&Out, Burmese, or Mexican Food.)

Given my proclivity for herbs, I thought I would post on how I used three of them the other night in a favorite green tea infusion and a fabulous cooked spring salad to accompany homemade focaccia.

Lemon Verbena is a pretty magical herb. If I told you that it was the closest I have ever come to tasting a sophisticated bottled up essence of Lucky Charms it probably wouldn’t seem that alluring to you (unless you knew that we did not eat sugar cereals growing up and that was hands down my favorite one for special treats). Well, if you haven’t ever smelled Lemon Verbena you are missing out. You simply need to brush by a single leaf and the whole air is perfumed with a warm, heady perfume. It really doesn’t smell lemony to me at all, but maybe closer to a mix of lemons and their blossoms. This past week I made a syrup to use on lemon verbena cupcakes and to whip into whipped cream for a make-your-own meringue bar at my sister’s bridal shower. I loved them so much I decided to go for a non-sweet version of lemon verbena iced tea.

Lemon Verbena Green Tea Infusion

The iced tea infusion is a cinch. In fact, a recipe is overstating things. You boil a pot of water, take it off the heat and add loose gunpowder green tea and several sprigs of lemon verbena and let it sit for ten minutes or so. Filter out the loose tea (unless you encased the tea leaves in tea balls, in which case just take them out) and leave in the lemon verbena, if you like. It does not need any sweetening, but if you like sweetened tea (which I generally do not except hot Moroccan mint tea) you can make an exceptional syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water, take the syrup off heat and add more lemon verbena and let it cool. Add this for a fragrant sweetener.

The next two herbs, humble ones that you probably have used in a pasta sauce or roasting a chicken, are thyme and parsley. Last spring I made a lovely topping for crostini/bruschette with artichokes, freshly shelled peas, and fava beans and I wanted to do something a little different with our first pick of the glut of fava beans growing in our yard.

Just picked peas, favas, parsley, and thyme.

Taking inspiration from my favorite Londoners, I sliced up some artichokes that I received from Mariquita Farm

Artichokes and lemons

I then roasted them with some lemon, garlic, thyme, and peppercorns and added barely cooked fresh peas, fava beans, and parsley, once they were done.

Freshly shelled favas (broad beans) and peas

It was a blissful dish and the peppercorns were surprisingly spicy without overwhelming the other flavors. This is a dish with a lot of wiggle room when it comes to your herb garden. You could swap in shallots or onions when cooking the artichokes instead of the garlic. If you want to be traditional, you could add some freshly minced mint instead of, or in addition to the parsley at the end. If you prefer less bite, you could dry roast the peppercorns and add them near the end instead of baking them with the artichokes together (the spicy peppercorns surprisingly permeated into whatever artichoke surrounded it, which I liked a lot). Finally, you do not need to shell fresh peas and favas yourself, we just happened to have them in the garden. This would be fine to make quickly with frozen favas or peas. And it is just delicious with freshly baked focaccia (which may make an appearance here very soon).

Favas, peas, and artichokes with peppercorns, thyme, and parsley

Favas, Peas, and Artichokes with Peppercorns, Thyme, and Parsley

(serves 4-6)

3 medium-large artichokes

Fava Beans (Broad Beans), about 6 or 7 pods per person or about 30-35 fava beans

Peas, about 5 or 6 peapods per person or about 25-30 peas

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bunch of parsley and/or  8-10 leaves of mint

2 lemons, each cut in half

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt to taste

1 handful of whole peppercorns of any color

Heat the oven to 400F degrees. Have a bowl full of cold water at hand and squeeze half of one lemon into the water. Remove the outer third of leaves and then slice each artichoke in half from the tip down to the stem (lengthwise) and immediately rub the cut sides with one of the lemon halves. Carefully remove the furry “choke” from the middle of the artichoke with a small knife. Place the unchoked artichokes into the cold lemony water. Working one half at a time, slice each artichoke thinly lengthwise again (as if you were doing melon slices), about 1/8 inch thick and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, garlic, thyme sprigs, and peppercorns and squeeze two halves of the lemon and bake for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a pot of salted water and barely cook the peas and favas together. If you have really large, harder fava beans, you may want to double peel the favas. If you have never done this before, you pinch each fava bean until the light green skin of the fava comes off (I left mine on this time) to expose a bright green inside. Drain them and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Mince the parsley (and mint if you want to add that or substitute it).

Let the artichokes cool for a couple of minutes after removing from the oven and then mix with the favas, peas, parsley, and salt to taste. If you feel it needs a little more lemon juice or a drizzle of fresh olive oil, feel free.

Lemon Verbena Green Tea Infusion

3 large sprigs of lemon verbena

Gunpowder Green Tea, 2 or 3 tablespoons

Boil about 5-6 cups of water and take off heat. Add the lemon verbena and the green tea. After 5-10 minutes of brewing, remove the tea (or pour into another container through a mesh filter). I put back the lemon verbena sprigs while it cools. Serve with ice.

Posted in Artichokes, Dinner, Fava Beans/Broad Beans, Peas, Vegan | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Food of love…Israeli Couscous with Carrots, Moroccan Olives, and Preserved Lemon

Israeli Couscous with carrots, Moroccan olives, and preserved lemons

Last weekend we had a bridal shower for my sister. I had some help making the food and I was off the hook for drinks, but I a little problem. I had to transport food for about twenty-five people over an hour away. No hot dishes or large meat plates and definitely no ice cream for dessert. In a way, the distance immediately helped me hone down my choices of what to cook.

Barbie bride cake made by my Aces-of-Cake aunt and cousin

The afternoon before the shower I began to cook. I settled on my favorite cauliflower fritters with lime-yogurt sauce and a very new favorite wild rice salad. I prepared three types of meringues for a self-service meringue bar (more on that in another post), but I wanted one more main course item…with carrots.

Carrots from Mariquita

Right now we have a motley crew of carrots in our garden from Chantenay and Babette to Round French Market so when I received a bag of maybe two pounds of lovely baby carrots from Mariquita Farm, I reserved them for the shower. I had been eyeing an old Gourmet magazine recipe for Israeli couscous with squash that made use of preserved lemon. I decided to ditch the roasted squash and substitute quickly blanched, unpeeled baby carrots. In addition, I preserved some Meyer Lemons about two months ago and had yet to use them. The dish had begun to evolve.

My homemade preserved Meyer Lemons

I also had on hand a package of salty Moroccan olives from a Middle Eastern Market near my house so I decided to riff Moroccan despite the “Israeli” part of the couscous name. That being said, I actually imagined this salad with one more little change which was the addition of maghrabia/mograbiah (essentially humongous Israeli couscous) just to add a little contrast, but I must have used the last of that or it is hiding behind one of my twenty bags of whole grain flours.

So how did it turn out? Tantalizing. The preserved sour lemons and olives packed a salty enough punch that I added absolutely no additional salt to the couscous. The sautéed onions and toasted pine nuts made this dish taste fantastically savory despite its vegan status. Add the barely cooked baby carrots and a handful of raisins, and the sweet flavors rounded out the dish. I cannot gush enough about how much I liked this salad and the only thing holding me back from making another batch is a trip to the store for more Israeli couscous.

Oh, you meant how did the shower turn out? As a result of the great efforts of my aunts and youngest sister, it was wonderful and low-key. We lounged out in the warm Davis sunshine, which was very welcome after a week of fog in San Francisco, and celebrated sister number three’s impending wedding (read: a lot of racy lingerie). I am really looking forward to it.

More Israeli couscous with carrots, Moroccan olives, and preserved lemons.

Israeli Couscous with Carrots, Moroccan Olives, and Preserved Lemon

(serves 4 hungry people or 6 dainty ones)

1 preserved lemon

20 truly baby carrots (not the bagged chemically treated kind), scrubbed, but not peeled

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup salty Moroccan olives (nothing briny)

1 3/4 cups Israeli couscous (feel free to substitute 1/2 cup of this with mograbiah)*

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup golden or black raisins

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and prepare a medium bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the baby carrots until they are just cooked on the outside, but still maintain a slight firmness inside. No mush here. Fish them out of the boiling water and plunge into the ice water to cease cooking. Set aside. Keep the water to cook the couscous or, if you do not want any tinge of orange on the couscous, boil another pot of salted water and add the cinnamon stick. When boiling, add the couscous until it is al dente, like regular pasta. Drain without rinsing and set the couscous aside.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in the olive oil until they are past translucent, and just beginning to turn golden, about ten minutes on medium heat. Add the olives and give them a turn in the pan for another minute and let cool for a couple of minutes until just warm.

Combine the onion-olive mixture with the couscous and carrots. Add the chopped preserved lemon, raisins, parsley, cinnamon, and allspice. Gently mix together and add the pine nuts for one or two more turns. Serve.

*Notes: If you want to make this the day before, wait until serving before adding the chopped parsley and pine nuts. Also, if you add in the moghrabia, it will take longer to cook than the Israeli couscous, so cook it separately.

Preserved Moroccan Meyer Lemons

10-15 organic Meyer lemons, depending on their size (a little over a pound)

1/3-1/2 cup kosher salt

1 very clean 1-quart mason jar.

Slice about 8 medium-small lemons into eighths lengthwise, you may need more. Layer wedges of the lemons  with the salt, pressing down with the back of a clean wooden spoon as you go. I tend to do about 6-8 wedges on each layer and then about 2-3 teaspoons of salt in between them. Do this until you fill the jar. Cover and set aside in a cool spot for 4 days. The salt draws the juice out until it almost covers the lemons. Push down the lemons once more and if they are not covered, juice some of the remaining lemons and add the juice to the top until they are. Out the lid back on the jar and leave alone for another 3 weeks in a cool spot. Enjoy. They will keep for at least 6 months in a cool spot.

Posted in Carrots, Dinner, Lunch, Pasta, Salad, Vegan | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments