10/13/14

Rustic Shallot, Mushroom and Cheese Tart



Photo of Carla Hall's Rustic Tart of Onions and Leeks, which I've adapted since the October 14 farm share from Glade Road Growing includes a first--at least since I've been doing the recipes--shallots!  (Also expect  spaghetti squash, cherry bell salad radishes, a sweet pepper and a green kohlrabi--plus lettuce for those of you who can eat it.) 

And, if you don't feel like baking, think what a nice salad you could make with raw, thinly sliced shallots,  radishes, sweet pepper, kohlrabi and some lightly steamed green beans in a Dijon vinegrette.


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Shallots are in the genus Allium, along with the more common onions and garlic. The flavor is similar to an onion, but richer and more potent with a hint of garlic.  When shallots are called for in a recipe, but unavailable, you need to use twice as many onions and maybe a clove of garlic.

There are two types of traditional shallots featured in French cooking, gray (allium oschaninii) and red (allium cepa var. aggregatum), which are grown from bulbs. The original botanical name for red shallots, allium ascalonicum, points to their origins in the Middle East and refers to the Port of Ascalon, in Palestine, which is now known as the Ashkelon seaside resort in Israel.

Then there are Dutch shallots, which can be grown from seed (and despised as inferior by the French--although the botanical guide I looked at also classified them, as are the red shallots as allium cepa var. aggregatum.)  Here's a fascinating account of the shallot wars from the French gardening blog,  L'Atelier Vert.  

And just to make things even more confusing, there is a wild Persian shallot (allium hirtifolium Boiss.)



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Serves 4


To make crust:

Cut 2 sticks of unsalted butter into 1/2 inch dice.  In a medium bowl, combine  2 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour, 1 TB sugar and 1/2 tsp sea salt and stir with a rubber spatula or a fork to combine. Add the butter to the bowl. Rub the cold chunks of butter between your fingertips, smearing the butter into the flour to create small (roughly 1/4-inch) flakes of fat. Form into a ball and flatten into a disk and refrigerate until very cold.

Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly—it should be cold and firm but not rock hard. Depending on how long the dough was chilled, this could take 5 to 20 minutes. When ready to roll, lightly flour parchment paper on a counter and position the rolling pin in the center of the dough disk. Roll away from you toward 12 o’clock, easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep the edge from becoming too thin. Return to the center and roll toward 6 o’clock. Repeat toward 3 and then 9 o’clock, always easing the pressure at the edges and picking up the pin rather than rolling it back to the center until you have a 12-inch round. Slide the parchment paper with the dough on it onto a half sheet pan, cover lightly and put back into fridge.

To prepare shallots and mushrooms:

Peel shallots, cut off root end and cut in half lengthwise.  Drizzle with 1 TB of extra virgin olive oil and roast at 400 degrees F until softened and golden about 30 minutes.   (It will take less time, if you are using a convection oven)

While the shallots are roasting, slice 3/4 pounds of mushrooms to make about 4 cups.  Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushroom juices release and evaporate and the mushrooms start to brown, about five minutes.  Add 1/4 cup dry white wine, bring to a boil and simmer until it evaporates.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper  and remove to plate.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

To make cheese mixture:

In a large bowl, stir together until mixed well:
3/4 cup of ricotta or cottage cheese,
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temp
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigano-Reggiano cheese
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble tart:


Take the round of dough out of the fridge and spread the cheese mixture evenly over it, leaving a 2-inch border. Spoon the mushrooms in an even layer over the cheese and top with shallots arranged cut side up.  While it will be a round tart as at the top, the shallots will be arranged more like this:




Fold the border of the dough over the mushrooms, pleating the dough every two inches. Immediately transfer to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown - about 25 minutes.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.


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Here are additional shallot recipes (each of which serves 4) which  I've translated (best as I could) from the official site, Echalote Traditionnelle.

Shallot Vinaigrette
Finely chop 1 or 2 shallots and add them 6 1/2 oz. of wine vinegar in a covered jar and refrigerate overnight.

Shallot Confit 
Melt 2 oz. unsalted butter and 2 oz. salted butter in a heavy pan. Peel 16 Shallots and cut in half lengthwise and saute over low heat with two branches of thyme until shallots are dark golden in color and very soft.  Remove the thyme.  (You can use the butter again, which will be flavored by the shallots and thyme by pouring it through a sieve to remove any debris, then allowing it to cool, pouring it into a covered jar and storing it in the fridge.

This is especially good added to baked chicken [or roasted potatoes] which have been cooked halfway and then coated before finishing  in a sauce made from toasted black sesame seeds cooled and combined with 1.5 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, ½ tablespoon soy sauce and 5 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil.

Cream of shallot and mushroom soup

Slice 15 shallots and 1  pound of mushrooms into strips and saute in butter or olive oil  over low heat, for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.  In a saucepan, heat 7 cups of stock.  Add the shallots and mushrooms and 1 cup of cream and blend.  The original recipe called for garnishing with smoked duck and croutons, but you can pick a garnish of your choice or none. 

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Wondering what to do with kohlrabi? Here are two previous recipes:







10/12/14

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Linda Parson Marion's Motherland



Cover art by Rachel Travis for  Linda Parson Marion's Motherland (Iris Press, 2008, 96 pp).  I first published this post on 10/12/14 at 11:00 PM.  I last updated it on 7:05 PM on 10/18/14.

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

This week I read Linda Parson Marion's Motherland, her narrative poems about leaving at the age of 11 from the home of her bi-polar mother (not to be diagnosed until age 73) to join her father and her young stepmother (who had married her father at age 20) and of subsequent visits back and forth. 

The images (and the story) are riveting.

UPDATE:  I reconnect with Linda on Facebook on 10/18, having last seen her (and met her) at a reading at  Radford University in June 2011.  I had just found this piece from last month (with additional artwork by Travis, who, it turns out is her daughter).  I wrote to let Marion know that I'd be doing a real review once I caught up, but that I wanted to let her know about this post and that her book was "a real lesson in how to write about hard things." 

This was her response, which she gave me permission to reprint here, since I think it gives insight in the writing process:

I like that, Beth, a lesson in how to write about hard things. The challenge is always to craft the raw emotion and memory into a semblance of art, to distance yourself enough from the pain or horror, yet not lose the truth and depth of the experience so that it becomes as much universal as personal.

10/6/14

Salad of Shredded Pears, Watermelon Radishes and Hakurei Turnips Served with Asian Dressing and Greens


This photo accompanied a  Sanura Weathers recipe in Frugavore. Check out her blog, My Life Runs on Food (at the link for her name) for more of her creations. Weathers used kohlrabi and a balsamic vinaigrette, but I adopted the recipe for a more Asian flavor, using the October 7 farm share from Glade Road Growing, which is slated to include: tat soi, bok choy, a watermelon roasting radish, cilantro, red onion, salad turnips, and arugula.

Weathers and I both like to combine something sweet such as pears with  the sharp taste of greens like arugula (last year's recipe) and brassica root crops such as turnips and radishes.  If you find the turnips and radishes too sharp for your taste when raw, you can make them milder by lightly sauteing with the onion and letting them cool before adding to the dressing.

1.  Wash tatsoi, bok choy, arugula, and cilantro and dry using a salad spinner or by setting in a colander lined with a clean kitchen towel.   Remove the cilantro from its stems and reserve stems for another use, such as a vegetable broth or pesto.  If arugula is mature, wilt in a lightly oiled skillet and set aside to cool.

2.  Smash, peel and mince a couple of cloves of garlic.  Peel and finely mince fresh ginger root to make 1/2 TB.  Combine in a covered jar with the juice of one lime, 2 TB of extra virgin olive oil, 1 TB of miso,  a dash of freshly ground black pepper, a small pinch of crushed red pepper

3.  Separate turnips from greens, reserve greens for another use. Trim root end.  Peel red onion and discard peel or save for making a vegetable broth. Cut in half and reserve one half for another use.  Trim ends from watermelon radish and peel. (If the greens are included separate and reserve as you did for the turnips.) Peel one under ripe bosc pear, trim ends, cut vertically in half and use spoon or melon baller to remove tough center and seeds.  Using a box grater, coarsely grate the turnips, onion, radish and pear into a large bowl.

4.  Lightly toss the grated salad and dressing. Let marinate for at least an hour at room temperature.
Toss again before serving.

5.  Prepare a bed of shredded tatsoi and/or bok choy either on a large platter or in individual bowls.  Top with grated salad and garnish with arugula and cilantro.  If you like, you can also top with  crumbled goat, feta or blue cheese and nuts such as walnuts, pecans or almonds.

Tatsoi is one of my favorite greens. You can use just the bok choy for this salad and save the tatsoi to make my tempeh recipe from last year.  The tatsoi would also be nice in a salad with clementines, bell pepper, red onion and almonds in a dijon vinaigrette, similar to the one shown in this photo from Shabnam Arora Afsah's Flavor n' Spice blog post:

Or, Martha Stewart has a nice recipe for poached sweet potatoes and tofu with tatsoi  photographed by one of my favorites, Romulo Yanes.

10/5/14

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Howard Reich, Naomi Shihab Nye, Christopher Green, Jeff Daniel Marion

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)



Howard Reich will be at Virginia Tech Newman library Monday to discuss his book and the resulting documentary (which shows at the Lyric on Tuesday.

Other books I read this week:

Naomi Shihab Nye:  Transfer (poems):

Christopher Green:  The Headmasters Wife (literary novel)






Jeff Daniel Marion: Father (poems)

9/29/14

Roasted Winter Squash and Apples with Quinoa, Kale, Pecans and Tahini Maple Dressing




This gorgeous photo is from  Ashley McLaughlin, an architect turned "cookbook author, freelance food photographer, recipe developer, and portrait photographer."  McLaughlin uses acorn squash with her kale (which makes for an interesting shape), but the winter squash in the 9/30 farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to be a 2-3 pound buttercup squash as pictured at the bottom of the page. Beside the squash, kale and garlic used in this recipe, other veggies slated for delivery are:  parsley, lettuce mix, and peppers.

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To make tahini dressing:

Heat a clean, large dry cast iron  skillet over medium high heat and add 1 cup of whole sesame seeds.  Stir frequently until they begin to turn golden brown and pop.  Remove from skillet and process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to make 3/4 cup.  For this recipe, you will need 4 TB.  You can store the rest in a lidded jar in the fridge.  Peel and smash one clove of garlic. Combine tahini and garlic in a jar with with 2 oz. lime juice (about two limes). Seal and shake and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Add 1 TB of  real maple syrup and sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

To roast squash and apples:

Slice two crisp, tart  apples, leaving skin on, but removing core (Granny Smith and Cortlands are two of my favorites).

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds.  I roast it roast face up  in a counter top convection oven for 30 minutes at 475 degrees F, then slice it, peel it and cut it into chunks.  Alternately, you can cut it into 1/4 thick slices and roast it in a conventional oven at 400 degrees F for about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  If you are cooking the squash in the oven, during the last seven minutes add the apples.  Otherwise you can roast separately in the convection oven for a couple of minutes once the squash is done until the apples start to soften and turn fragrant.

To cook kale and quinoa
Smash, peel and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Chiffonade the kale by removing center stem, rolling and slicing crosswise to make long strips. 

Cover 1 cup raw quinoa in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then rinse.  Add fresh water and bring back to a boil and let sit covered until water is absorbed, about a half hour.  Fluff with a fork.

Cook kale in lightly oiled cast iron skillet for about four minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute, then   add a bit of water to steam lightly.  Remove from stove to plate while kale is still bright green and combine with  cooked quinoa.

To serve:

Place quinoa and kale  on a large platter then arrange roasted squash and apples on top. Or you can serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with 1/2  cup of pecans and drizzle with dressing. 







This buttercup squash photo is  from Canadian registered dietitian, freelance magazine nutrition writer and recipe developer Matt Kadey of the blog Muffin Tin Mania.  Be sure to check out his 11/10/10 recipe for buttercup squash and oat muffins. Other yummy recipes for winter squash and kale include Kaela Porter's roasted squash with red peppers and rosemary from her Local Kitchen blog and Liz Harris's wheat berry salad with roasted squash, kale and whiskey soaked cranberrries from her Floating Kitchen blog.  Plus, here are my winter squash recipes from last season:

09/10/13: Moroccan Squash and Eggplant Stew
10/07/13: Another Moroccan Stew: Beets, Buttercup Squash and Radishes
11/11/13: Pecan-Topped Winter Squash Pie (Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoes Work, Too)

11/18/13: Parsnip, Carrot, Winter Squash and Apple Stew

9/28/14

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Hugh Martin's The Stick Soldiers



Cover of  The Stick Soldiers, BOA Editions, 2013, 103 pp., ISBN 9781938160066.

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)  This week a poetry book about the war in Iraq comes with my highest recommendation.


Hugh Martin signed on with the Army National Guard in June 2001 for a standard six-year hitch.  The twin towers of the World Trade Center came down in September.  By 2003, he was attending Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.  In an essay for the New York Times ten years later, he writes,
The war began for me while I was sitting on a couch in a living room. Like many people, I watched it all commence on television. At a friend’s house on campus, I sat with a few college friends and drank Bud Ice from bottles. We weren’t drinking beer because of the war; we were drinking simply because, being in college, it was something we often did. White smoke from an explosion would burst up from the cityscape of Baghdad as the sound echoed through the dark. Yellow tracers from antiaircraft fire sprayed randomly into the sky. The ticker on the bottom of the screen euphemistically summarized what was happening (while adding some alliteration and a subtle rhyme): “Large explosion rocks Iraq’s capital.” 

By 2004, Martin was withdrawing from school, when his unit deployed to Iraq. These poems recount his time in basic training, his preparation for Iraq, his experience withdrawing from school, his time in country and his return home to Ohio. Hugh Martin went on to finish his degree on Muskingum in 2009,  obtained an MFA from Arizona State University in  2012 and that fall became a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  This month, he started  as a lecturer in the English Department at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

9/22/14

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai



Photo from The Functional Foodie

The September 23 farm share for Glade Road Growing is slated to include: spaghetti squash, dill, bok choy, Rosa de Tropea onions, carrots and radishes.

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash with flesh that appears solid until it is cooked and falls into  strands like spaghetti.  Many folks cook it with an Italian-inspired tomato or primavera sauce, which is delicious, but I decided to go Asian and provide a recipe for the stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai, since the consistency reminds me more of rice noodles than of wheat pasta.  The recipe in the photograph called for tofu and bean spouts, but I prefer tempeh to tofu  and substituted radishes and bok choy for the bean sprouts, since they are in the farm share this week.

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Serves 4

For sauce:  Process in a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle:
1/4 c. roasted peanut (or substitute cashew and/or sunflower seeds, if you are allergic to peanuts)
2 tbsp white rice vinegar or lime juice
1 tbsp of miso
1 tbsp demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 clove of garlic.

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

For garnish, in separate bowls prepare:
1/3 cup of chopped roasted peanuts, cashews or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of cilantro leaves torn loose from stem
1/3 cup of chopped green onions
1 lime cut into wedges

Cook the spaghetti squash.  To prep, cut in half, scoop out seeds and stringy pulp with a spoon.  I roast mine face up in a convection oven at 475 for 30 minutes, but you can also cook it in a baking dish  with 1/4 cup of water face down  about 12 minutes in a microwave or  about 35 minutes in a conventional oven at 350 degrees F or until  soft. Set squash to cool and then use a fork to separate the flesh into ribbons.

While the squash is cooking and cooling, prep the other veggies.  Thinly slice one of the Rosa de Tropea onions.  Cut carrots into matchsticks to make 1 cup.  Thinly slice radishes to make one cup.  Thinly slice bok choy to make one cup.  Mince 3 cloves of garlic a one-inch piece of fresh ginger root. Cut one block of tempeh into thin slices.

In a lightly oiled skillet, cook tempeh until lightly browned, about 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Re-oil skillet and add onions, garlic and ginger;  stir until onions are softened and translucent. Add carrots and radishes and stir for about 1 minute more. Add sauce and tempeh and stir gently, until thoroughly mixed.  Remove from heat and add bok choy and squash, tossing to combine. Pour into a deep platter or divide among individual bowls and garnish.  Serve at once.