Archives for posts with tag: creme fraiche

Yes, I’m back after my very long hiatus.  I thought I could keep up with my blog after the big move to Toronto, my husband’s medical school graduation, a vacation to Dubai, and another mini-vacation to my parents’ house in Rhode Island.  I missed my blog, but it’s sort of like when you stop something in your routine  and then after a few weeks you don’t feel guilty about keeping up with it.  This happened with me.  As much as I love blogging, I just got out of my routine.  It’s good to take a breather and come back refreshed and full of new ideas.

For the past few nights, I’ve been thinking what I would write for my next post.  I felt the urge in the middle of the night to open up my laptop and just start typing and  telling you all about all the major events that have happened recently.  The big move, which still isn’t complete as far as setting up our place.  Slowly but surely.  And our wonderful vacation to see my sister in Dubai-we returned sulking because we had gotten so used to the pampered lifestyle and delicious cuisine from all over the world.  Now, I’m back at my childhood home, having fun, spending time with my husband and parents, enjoying the New England summer.  I hope to share more snippets and glimpses with you about all these things in upcoming posts.


I made my way to the Providence Farmers’ Market to get some inspiration.  I came back with gorgeous chives and their even lovelier blossoms, radishes, cucumbers, and potatoes.  Then I picked up the best yogurt ever, which is made by Narragansett Creamery.  I wanted to make something fresh, it’s been hot here and wanted to make something light, cooling, and refreshing.  I found some luscious mint in our herb garden and decided to make a potato salad with a few Pakistani twists.  I added a tarka of curry leaves, cumin seeds, and crushed red chili flakes. It sounds odd to add sizzling oil over a creamy potato salad, but trust me it works.

I had a great time creating this dish.  My mom helped me with the photos, something that a certain somebody (ahem, ahem…my husband) never does.  She also has the most amazing collection of plates, silverware, napkins, and other lovely pieces.  My parents’ house is also in the country.  Fresh wild flowers are abundant here along with shimmering sunshine.  I enjoyed this post, maybe it was because of my hiatus or new surroundings and new goodies to pick through.  Either way, I hope to make something else before we leave to go back to Canada,  where I also have a new condo kitchen waiting for me.

Until then, I’m enjoying myself here and hope too many of you haven’t forgotten about me.  I miss my friends in the food community and look forward to exploring your new posts as well.  🙂

Potato Salad with Radishes, Cucumbers, and a Tarka (Tempered Oil/Sizzling Oil with Spices)

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 medium-sized red potatoes, washed and scrubbed

1 bunch icicle radishes, or any radish of your choice

1 medium-sized English cucumber, sliced into discs

1/2 a small red onion, minced finely

1/4 cup chopped chives along with some chive blossoms, if available, plus extra for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped mint, plus extra for garnish

1/2 full-fat yogurt

1/2 cup crème fraîche, if in New England try Vermont Butter and Cheese crème fraîche

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

for the tarka:

1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil of your choice

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or to taste (this amount will be spicy)

10-15 curry leaves, available at Pakistani or Indian grocery stores

Method

Boil the potatoes in salted water in a medium saucepan until tender.  Allow to cool and then peel and slice into half moons.

Next, in a bowl combine the yogurt, crème fraîche, lemon juice, salt pepper, chives, mint, salt, and pepper.  Once it forms a dressing add in the potatoes, radishes, cucumber, and red onion.  Set aside and allow the flavors to come together in the refrigerator for an hour.

Before serving, prepare the tarka by heating up the oil in a small frying pan on medium heat.  Once it has come to temperature add the cumin seeds and red chili flakes.  They may splatter a bit, so be careful.  Once they start to infuse the oil,  after about 2 minutes, add in the curry leaves and let them fry for a minute.  Once the tarka is done, pour over the potato salad.  Garnish with chopped chives, mint, and chive blossoms.  If you are serving in individual plates, place the potato salad in the individual plate and spoon a little of the tarka over each plate.

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I’m no accomplished baker, this is my humble attempt at an apple galette.  I “ooh and ahh” at other bloggers’ baked delights.  Sure, I can make a chocolate chip cookie (well, who can’t) and brownies and the like.  However, I scare away from sophisticated desserts.  I shouldn’t though, with enough practice I think I could muster up something half-way decent.  I also have another excuse-Autumn.  If you don’t bake during this season, I’m sorry to say it, but you are pretty lame.  Jokes aside, something in the crisp fall air draws some inner baker out of me and has me craving all things warm, comforting, and gooey.

Apples are just that-warm and comforting.  They remind me of simpler times when hayrides and apple cider were enough to lift one’s spirits.  I take that back, maybe they are even today.  I like to knock down my “rural” roots and pretend I am a city girl, because that’s where I feel I belong.  Yet, I have ended up in small-town Canada (hopefully, not for much longer).  As much as I love cities, the charm in a small place is undeniable.  I have sweet grannies living in my building, always smiling and sharing in small talk.  In my apartment building hallway, I get wafts of sweet aromas of sugar, spice, and everything nice.

As I do every Autumn, I went crazy with apple buying.  I had lofty plans to make this and that, but I only ended up with this apple galette, so far.  As I mentioned earlier, I need to expand my baking repertoire.  I was proud of my galette, the dough wasn’t rock hard after being baked, that is my most common problem.  It was soft and flaky, perhaps I didn’t overmix.  No matter where your home is, I don’t know what gets more comforting and homey than an apple dessert.  This is something global, something that you could bring to anyone, anywhere and they would enjoy it.  And even the people who say they aren’t dessert people will be asking for seconds.

Apple, Pecan, and Crème Fraîche Galette

Serves 6

for the galette dough: (slightly adapted from David Lebovitz via Simply Recipes, I halved the recipe)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel

4 ounces (8 tablespoons) of butter, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes

2.5 ounces ice water

Method

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and  transfer them to the food processor.  Add the butter into the food processor until you get pea sized lumps of flour.  Next, stream in the water until the dough just forms.  Tranfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly until it just comes together into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  After the dough has chilled roll it out in between two pieces of parchment paper into a 13″ by 11″ circular shape, it doesn’t have to be perfect because this galette is very rustic.  Transfer the rolled out dough onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper and into the fridge until ready for assembly.

for the filling:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons apricot jam

3 cups honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4″ slices

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice, fresh is best

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon crème fraîche

pinch of salt

1/4 cup whole pecans

2 tablespoons of butter, cut up into small pieces

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk for eggwash

Method

While the dough is chilling, you can make the filling.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, but only use 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and don’t add in the pecans, butter, or eggwash.  The remaining brown sugar is for sprinkling over top.  Allow the apple mixture to marinate for 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator.

to make to galette:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lay the apples over the rolled-out dough leaving a 2-3″ border.  The apple may have leached some liquid, only spoon over up to 1/4 cup of the liquid onto the dough, we don’t want it to become soggy.  Roll up the sides of the dough in a rustic fashion, pinching the dough into place-this does not have to be perfect.  Assemble the pecans over the apples and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and dab the butter on top of the apples.  Brush the exposed galette dough with the eggwash.  Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes and then reduce the heat to 375 degrees for an additional 20-25 minutes.  The crust should be light golden brown when done.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or à la mode.

By the looks of my blog it seems like I like to indulge in fattening foods, ALL THE TIME!  That’s not the case, I splurge once a week, but on a daily basis I’m a healthy eater (so I’d like to think).  Everyday food for me, is soup, salads, grilled chicken, you know the whole shebang.  I like to jazz up my food a bit for my blog.  It’s my food’s alter ego, my Sasha Fierce, take that, Beyonce!

Leeks I had frozen 🙂

However, I would like to invite you to my daily eating world.  This soup exemplifies it.  I know, I did add the crispy leeks and the creme fraiche, but those are entirely optional.  Sometimes I add them sometimes I do not.  But, my husband will always add them.  Boys will be boys, I guess.  Speaking of which, I am suddenly reminded of that commercial where a woman said she gave up sugary drinks and did not lose an inch and husband did and lost 10 pounds.  I am quite careful with my eating habits and I have noticed many guys are not and they do not gain a pound. Grrrrr…I’m sure that is not the case with everyone, but an observation I have made.

Anyway, back to the soup.  Simple, easy and flavorful!  This is why I love soups.  Thousands of combinations and they can be so hearty and warming.  The taste sensations from this one are so bright because of the herbs and the lemon zest.  There is also a smooth and silky component that really soothes the soul.  For an easy weeknight meal, do try it.

White Bean Soup with Crispy Leeks and Herb Creme Fraiche

Serves 3

Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups of white beans, soaked overnight and cooked (use canned beans if it’s easier for you)

1 cup leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only, washed thoroughly)

1 shallot, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 sprig of rosemary, chopped

3 1/4 cups of homemade chicken stock (or vegetable stock,) warmed

kosher salt, to taste, about 3/4 of a teaspoon

red chili flakes, to taste, optional

a few cranks of fresh black pepper

2 tablespoons milk, optional

Method

Cook the leeks, shallot, and rosemary on medium heat in olive oil until translucent.  Add in the garlic and allow it to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Toss in the salt, black pepper, and chili flakes.  Add the beans and allow them to heat up.  Pour in the warmed chicken stock and allow it to come a boil.  Let the whole mixture boil for about 7 minutes.  Blend the soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender and strain through a sieve.  Put it back in the pot, and stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil and then serve.

Garnish Options

Crispy leeks:  Take 1/4 cup of chopped leeks and shallow fry them in olive oil until they become golden brown.  Drain excess oil on a paper towel.  Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt at end.

Herb Creme Fraiche:  Take 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 5 sprigs of chopped chives, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, zest of half a lemon, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil and combine them with 2-3 tablespoons of creme fraiche.   Dollop on top of the soup.

I added a little extra lemon zest and some chives for some garnishes.