Archives for posts with tag: Blog

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Labor day weekend has just passed and I didn’t want to go back to work!  I’m sure this is a dilemma many of you are had.  I had a four-day weekend to just chill, enjoy, and of course eat yummy food.  Autumn is approaching and as much as I love it, summer is just summer.  Lots of long weekends, beautiful weather, and beautiful food.

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I’ve been cooking lots this summer, not as many desserts or baking as much as I wanted to, but that’s ok – fall is for baking cozy and comforting desserts.  Plus, technically summer isn’t even over yet!  That is why I wanted to share this Lime Curd Tart with Mangoes with all of you.  It oozes summer and bright flavors.

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I’ve always been inspired by beautifully arranged fruit tarts.  Mine always look a little homemade and don’t have that professional touch, but that’s okay!  We will leave the immaculate and perfect tarts for the pros.  I’ve made citrus curd tarts many times, but I never put so much effort and precision into arranging the fruit as I did for this one. I wanted it to look like a blossom.  Let me tell you, it was tedious work, the fifteen minutes or so I took arranging the mangoes (never mind the thinly slicing part) seemed to take forever.  But when it was done my blossom bloomed to the best of my ability.

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My in-laws came over that night after a delicious Thai meal.  I was glad they did because it would be me and a fork tackling this dessert if they hadn’t come over.  I was happy when people asked for seconds.  I think they also enjoyed this tart because it was cooling and refreshing after our spicy Thai meal.

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Take that extra effort and add a few edible flowers on top as well and this tart will bring a smile to people’s faces and on the plus side it feels so light that they will ask for seconds and maybe even thirds!

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Lime Curd Tart with Mangoes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 recipe of this lime curd ( you can you key limes or regular limes and also chill it for several hours)

5-6 mangoes, sliced thinly*

1 graham cracker crust (I used my cheesecake recipe crust, but substituted graham crackers here instead of amaretti cookies and baked it for 20 minutes)

1 1/2 cup heavy cream whipped in a mixer with 1/4 cup sugar and the seeds of one vanilla bean

edible flowers, for garnish, optional

lime zest, for garnish, optional

Assembly

Allow the graham cracker crust to cool for 1 hour after it has baked and leave it in the spring-form pan.  Once cooled, spread the chilled lime curd over the crust in an even layer.  After that, use a spatula to spread the whipped cream over the lime curd in an even layer.  Top with the mango slices starting row by row from the outside of the tart, slightly overlapping each layer, as to form a blossom.  Complete each layer row by row until you reach the center.  In the center you can make a mango rosette, if you would like.  If you do not care to be finicky arrange the mangoes however you like.   Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

When serving, top with lime zest and edible flowers.  Serve chilled.

*The slicing of the mangoes is a little tricky.  Cut the mango along the seed lengthwise on all sides.  Then take those mango slices and lay them flat on a cutting board and slice thinly.  The slices should resemble long half-moons.

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Sometimes cooking becomes the daily grind.  You have no creativity and don’t feel like cooking very much.  I was in that place for a little while, a funk, if you will.  I think we all go through phases like this.  I was cooking dinner and just getting by and not expanding my culinary repertoire much.  And then one day I just felt upset, upset that I’ve let something go that I’m so passionate about.

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I thought to myself, I used to go to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday and get inspired, I used to think of how I could start something with food.  I felt sad and felt as though I let myself down.  Why must I doubt myself — why must I get into these phases where I am uninspired?  I’m sure this happens to everyone.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  Something that helped me get out of this strange aura I was living in, in regard to cooking was that  my friend Christy asked me to participate in a program/class she is involved with on the first 3 Thursdays of every month called the ELLICSR Kitchen.  This is a remarkable program that works with cancer survivors and patients and introduces them to healing, holistic nutrition.

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When Christy asked me to participate I felt a little apprehensive and scared.  I didn’t know how I could speak ON CAMERA.  When I got there I felt much better – the environment was so warm and friendly and I was a little more at ease (still nervous, though!).  Christy Brissette is a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist who explains nutritional components to dishes and Chef Geremy Capone is a wellness chef who expertly prepares all the dishes.  They chose two dishes from my blog and one new dish I created for the workshop and we prepared them together and I shared a little about myself.  Once I got going I was comfortable and I don’t think I fumbled!  The best part was interacting with the lovely audience.  They were so eager to learn and gave me to positive reinforcement I needed.

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I remember one older lady in particular.  She is living in the hospital and wheelchair bound. She is a regular at the ELLICSR kitchen.  She was the the first to arrive so she could get a prized front-row seat.  She is from India and was excited to talk about the spices we had on display. We made a Potato Radish Salad with a Tarka and she throughly enjoyed it because as she explained to me, she loves raw vegetables over cooked ones.  I’m sure she is over 80 years old and she told me about when she was a child in India.  She would accompany her mother weekly to the fruit and vegetable vendors – she would wait all week for this outing.  She loved all the fresh vegetables and would be in awe of all the activity in the market.  There were other mothers and their children at the market, she told me.  They didn’t seem to enjoy the experience as much as she did.  She plucked fresh peas from the overflowing baskets and ate them raw.  She laughed when she said, “my mother used to call me a goat because I loved to graze on green vegetables like a goat and that I was definitely a goat in my previous life.”  I was amazed at how her memory was so vivid.  She talked about her mother as if she was still a child.  She took my email and told me when she goes home she will get in touch with me.  I hope I hear from her soon.

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Since that day, I decided I wanted to reach out more and hear more stories like this.  We all have something to share and we all have memories that will last for decades and need to passed on.  Just lend an ear and give someone some time and without expectation you can gain invaluable insight.

Back into the kitchen I went.  Cooking more and eating out less.  I recently started to make ricotta cheese at home.  So easy and so good.  I made this pasta because these are flavors I love – sweet corn, fruity red chilies, fresh basil, and creamy ricotta.  It’s summer on a plate and the sunshine colors make it all the more appealing.  Share it with friends or family and learn something new about each other.

Some quickly shot photos from the ELLICSR Kitchen Event:

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Sweet Corn, Red Chili Linguine with Fresh Ricotta and Basil

Serves 4

Ingredients

linguine, or pasta of your choice

olive oil

sea salt

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly

3 mild red chilies, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilies (red chili flakes), optional

2 cups fresh shucked corn, or frozen kernels

fresh ricotta, for serving I used this recipe.

fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Method

In a large sauté pan heat about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add in the sliced garlic and the fresh red chilies.  Allow them to caramelize and almost confit for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the linguine according to the package instructions and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Add in the crushed red chilies with the garlic and red chilies, if you are using.

Turn the heat up to medium and add in the corn.  Cook the corn for about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt, to taste and add in the heavy cream and parsley.  Toss in the linguine and add 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid and sauté until it all comes together, about 1-2 minutes.  Add in more pasta cooking liquid, if necessary.  Serve hot and top with a dollop of fresh ricotta and the basil leaves in chiffonade.

IMG_8052Yesterday, on my walk home from the gym an entirely random craving for Spicy Wok Basil Noodles came over me .  This past summer my husband and I were both working research positions in New Haven, Connecticut.  New Haven, an unexpected mix of “Yalies” and urban culture had a surprisingly good restaurant scene.  It is also well catered to the student population.  Our living arrangements this summer, were last minute and may I say less than desirable.  I hardly stepped foot in the kitchen of the apartment we were staying at, much to my husband’s dismay.  Basically, we ate out quite often (everyday).  (Thankfully, we were able to move out after a month to a better place 🙂 ).  A note to women– please do not let your husband/boyfriend/partner pick out a place to live because they can adapt anywhere, whereas we cannot!  Anyway, enough with my rant!

Back to the food!  In New Haven, we stumbled upon a restaurant or more aptly, a dive called York Street Noodle.  It is an entirely “studenty” place that serves noodle bowls and wok creations.  Every time we went there I ordered the Spicy Wok Basil Noodle (either vegetarian or shrimp).  I always asked them to make it extra spicy for me and Yummmm, it just hit the spot!  I know my re-creation can never be AS good.  To my surprise, my version turned out quite good, not the exactly the same but pretty close.  My husband loved it so much he had three servings, which can only mean it was tasty!

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I have conducted an in-depth online search in order to find a recipe resembling it but, unfortunately, no luck.  But, I did find a photograph of the dish here yay!  My inspiration comes from this picture and my memories of the dish’s flavor.  A close cousin to this dish would be Drunken Noodles.

The noodles are wide and velvety.  There isn’t a sauce but a glistening glaze covering the noodles.  The flavor is smokey, nutty, and spicy.  The vegetables were pretty basic; green peppers (I substituted red peppers), mushrooms, white onions (I substituted shallots), wilted basil, and scallions.

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My version is as follows:

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon of ginger of galangal, minced

3 shallots, sliced

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (stems removed)

Handful of snow peas (clean by pulling off strings)

1 cup firm tofu, cubed

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (any size to your liking)

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or to your liking)

1/3 of 16 ounce package of wide rice vermicelli noodles, Banh Pho

5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce, Nuac Mam Dac Biet

1 tablespoon scant rice vinegar

juice of 1/2 lime

2 teaspoons chili oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teapsoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

crushed red chiles to taste (I used 1 tsp for spicy)

10-15 Thai basil leaves (I was not able to find Thai basil so I used regular basil)

2 scallions, sliced on a bias

a few cilantro and basil leaves, for garnish

1/2 a lime in wedges, for garnish

Method:

Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar,  1 teaspoon of the chili oil, lime juice, sugar, cornstarch, kosher salt, crushed red chiles in a bowl, set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, then put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water allow to soften, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry tofu on medium heat in 1 teaspoon of oil until golden, about 5 minutes, set aside.  Keep heat on medium, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok, when oil is heated add the shallots and allow to sweat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir constantly so they do not burn.  Next add shiitakes and allow to soften, add red peppers and snow peas at the end, for about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from wok and set aside with tofu.  Put the remaining oil in the wok and fry shrimp lightly, add the vegetables and tofu that was set aside.  Add the basil leaves and allow them to wilt.  Next, add the sauce and combine everything together.  Add the softened noodles (make sure to drain the water).  Toss everything together until the shrimp are cooked, about 5 minutes.  (Do not over cook, they can become rubbery; also keep the vegetables crisp, otherwise they will be soggy).  Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon of chili oil on top.  Add scallions and garnish with limes, cilantro, and basil.  Serve immediately.

Note:  I know this dish requires quite a few ingredients.  But, keeping a well stocked pantry will avoid a high grocery bill when making such a dish.  I always keep these sauces on hand so that I can whip up a fast dinner.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, you do not have to make a special trip to get snow peas if you don’t have them on hand.  If you would like to substitute chicken, beef, or make it vegetarian, feel free!  Adapt it to your tastes!  This dish took me 45 minutes with all the chopping.  Enjoy!