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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lemon Sunshine

Tartine Bakery Lemon Cream

As a lover of all things food,  I have always been in love with Tartine Bakery and what renowned chef Chad Robertson has done, not only with Tartine, but with bread in general. He is a master baker. Tartine is located in the Mission District of San Francisco and has a line down the street every weekend of customers dying to taste their French pastries and perfectly baked artisan breads. I was inspired this week by the weather and when there is sunny weather, I immediately think of lemons. Tartine makes this incredible lemon cream that I swear is one of the most beautiful things I have ever tasted. You can serve it with warm scones or use it as a tart filling with a simple gingersnap crust or if you are brave enough, eat it as pudding (there is no shame).

                Tartine Bakery: San Francisco, CA

Tartine Bakery Lemon Cream Recipe
Makes: 2 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Meyer or other)
3 large organic eggs
1 large organic egg yolk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter (16 tablespoons), sliced into 1 tablespoon pieces

In a small saucepan, pour water about 2 inches deep into the pan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of a saucepan over, not touching, the water. Place the bowl over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick. Do not stop whisking or the eggs will be ruined by the sugar. This will take 10 to 12 minutes. Should thicken enough to where you leave a trail in it with your whisk.

Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Set aside to let it cool. Stir occasionally to release the heat.

When the cream has cooled, pour into a blender. Add 1 tablespoon of butter at a time, blending completely until each piece incorporated. The cream will start to turn a gorgeous pale yellow.

Use immediately, or store in an air tight container until ready to serve. Holds for up to 5 days.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Late Spring Lunch

Leek Confit, Feta and Fresh Thyme Tart

Today I planted my first herbs in my late spring garden. The thyme was so beautiful and fragrant that I was inspired to make a dish with thyme in it. And what goes better with thyme than goat cheese. Rachel Ray and Bon Appetit had featured a goat cheese and leek tart this month and I thought this was a perfect dish for my newly acquired thyme. In addition, the technique for cooking the leeks is extremely simple but offers up a gourmet flavor. Serve this tart with a crisp arugula or romaine salad.

Leek Confit, Feta and Fresh Thyme Tart Recipe (Inspired by Rachel Ray and Bon Appetit)
Makes: 3 - 4 lunch servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus chilling of crust)
Cook Time: 1 hr. 5 min.

1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt together until crumbly. Add ice water by the tablespoon, and run food processor until dough comes together in a ball. Remove dough ball from food processor and knead twice. Form dough ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator, roll out until 1/8" thick. Transfer to a 9" tart pan. Trim the overhang to 1/2"; crimp the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Remove the tart shell and prick lightly with a fork all over the tart. Line inside of the tart with tin foil and pour pie weights or beans into the center. Blind bake for 20 minutes on the center rack. Remove weights and foil, bake 10 more minutes. Remove and let cool. 

Leek Confit
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/8" thick
1/2 tablespoon water
pinch of salt

Melt butter over medium-low heat, add leeks. Stir to combine. Add water and salt. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 3 minutes for water to evaporate. Set aside.

Tart Filling
4 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only 

Preheat oven to 375 (unless you left the oven on after baking tart shell).

Mix all tart filling ingredients to combine. Add leek confit. Pour mixture into the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes on the center rack. Remove and transfer the rack to a top rack. Bake for 15 minutes longer until set. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before serving.