Cherry-rhubarb-chevre summertime tart

We’ve been watering the rhubarb in the garden faithfully over the past month, and we’re about to be rewarded…it looks fabulous! This recipe is the perfect ending to a rhubarb harvest, and since we have just a bag or two of last summer’s tart cherries left in the freezer, the rhubarb cherry tart is just the ticket! Belly up! Thanks to Firefly Farms for the recipe and photo:)

Begin by lining a 9-inch tart pan with a simple pastry crust.  If you have the time, make it from scratch.  Pre-bake the crust in a 400 degree oven until just golden — be careful not to overcook at this point; you don’t want the edges to burn when the custard is baking.  When you pull the crust out, drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While the crust cools a bit, make the chèvre custard filling: whisk together 8 ounces of chèvre with a half-cup milk, two eggs, a bit of vanilla extract and 3/4 Cup of sugar.  Last, whisk in the juice of half a lemon.  Pour the custard mix into the pre-baked crust.

Now the fruit: slice the rhubarb- about one quarter-inch thick.  Use about 4 good-sized stalks.  Pit and halve a pint of cherries.  Mix the fruit together with a couple tablespoons of sugar — just enough to coat the fruit — then “sprinkle” the fruit evenly over the top of the tart.


Your mouth will be fully watering at this point.  Pop the tart back into the 350 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes.  Check frequently during the final 15 — you’ll want to pull it out when the surface of the custard begins to brown about the edges and the smell throughout your kitchen is irresistible.  Cool the tart in your fridge before you cut and serve.  You be glad you waited:  the custard develops a cheesecake texture, the flavors marry, and it cuts and serves beautifully.  (The freezer works too if you must eat it fast…).  Enjoy!
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Asparagus with Lemon Yogurt Dressing, Toasted Almonds and HB Eggs

It’s almost gone. The fresh asparagus, that is:(

Boo, let it go on for at least another month, I say! Although with Michigan strawberries coming on now, I could be placated — as long as they are sweet and readily available! We’ve had our asparagus steamed, sauced, fried and roasted, as a main course, accompaniment, and cold as leftover jewel-chunks over fresh green salad. I’ll take ’em all! Now let’s try Deb’s marvelous version of the lofty green spears, roasted and adorned with smoky lemon yogurt, almonds and chopped hard-boiled eggs. Wow! Thanks, Smitten Kitchen!

 

Roasted Asparagus with Smoky Lemon Yogurt, Chopped Eggs and Toasted Almonds

The yogurt dressing below will make more than you need, but if you want to make this again soon, be glad you have it around. If you have a hot smoked paprika around, I am sure it would make a wonderful, kicky substitution for half the paprika. Chipotle powder, which is also smoky and hot, can impart a similar flavor. If you don’t have smoked paprika around, regular paprika with a pinch of ground cumin will add some smoky depth as well. The longer the yogurt dressing rests, the more garlicky it will become.

The pan-roasting technique is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, and it allows you to get the blistery, crisp-but-tender effect you might from a grill, without requiring that you either have a grill or run your oven for a long time.

This dish is great warm but also delicious at room temperature. Because of this, it would make an excellent brown bag lunch, cutting the spears into smaller segments that would easily fit in a container.

2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole blanched almonds, Marconas if you can get them

Yogurt dressing
1 cup plain yogurt (strained or Greek-style if you can find it)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pounds asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed or peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve
Squeeze of lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Coarse sea salt

Hard-boil your eggs according to your favorite method. While they cool, toast your almonds. [If you have time, cook the eggs 24 hours or more in advance. Older hard-boiled eggs peel more cleanly.]

In a 12-inch heavy skillet, toast your almonds over medium heat, tossing them frequently until they’re lightly bronzed. [Marcona almonds often come already toasted and in a bit of olive oil. If you’re happy with their color, use them as is. If not, you can put the almonds and oil in the skillet to toast them more deeply, as I did.] Let cool.

Once eggs and almonds are cool, coarsely chop both and set aside.

Make your yogurt dressing, whisking all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste. Spread 1/2 cup dressing in a thin layer over serving dish and set aside.

Reheat heavy 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, and once the oil is fully heated, add your trimmed asparagus spears — placing half in one direction and half in the other allows them to fit better. They won’t fit flat in a single layer, but you should try to spread them as evenly as possible. Cover the skillet with a lid (foil if you don’t have one that fits) and let skinny spears cook for 3 minutes and fatter ones for 5. Remove the lid, increase the heat to high, season the asparagus with salt and black pepper, and use tongs to cook the spears until they’re crisp-tender and well-browned along a side or two, about 5 minutes more for skinny spears or 7 minutes for thicker ones.

Transfer asparagus to dressing-coated serving dish. Sprinkle spears with an additional squeeze of lemon juice, if desired, a tiny drizzle of olive oil, chopped almonds, eggs and a bit of coarse sea salt. Dollop with additional yogurt dressing. Then dig in.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Rolls

Salmon is a family favorite, and so healthy. Especially from Lake Michigan, where they are abundant (until the Asian Carp eat all the fish food in the Lake!). OK, enough politics. On to the recipe, which comes from the always on-point Food Republic:

Servings:12 pieces

Ingredients

4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
Juice of one lime
6 ounces smoked salmon (12 pieces), thinly sliced
1/2 ounce salmon caviar or capers
12 chives, snipped finely
Directions:
  1. Combine the goat cheese, cayenne pepper*, and lime juice until smooth and blended.
  2. Place a small scoop of the goat cheese mixture on each slice of smoked salmon and roll into a log.
  3. Once you have made all 12 logs, top with some of the salmon caviar or capers. Then arrange on a platter and sprinkle with the chopped chives.
  4. Can be made up to 2 hours in advance and kept in the fridge.

* The cayenne is optional. Omit if you do not want this appetizer to be spicy.

To make your own smoked salmon check out this easy gravlax recipe.

New Lemon Goat Cheesecake!

I love reading Tartelette, especially at this time of year:) Her recipes, remembrances and photos are divine. This one is a relatively new entry, and since I’ve OD’d on butter, flour and powdered sugar from Christmas cookie baking, it’s a nice antidote. You can either make the garnishing syrup with blood oranges, or if you don’t have those, substitute navel oranges. This should be a wonderful variation on a favorite theme of mine, goat cheese custards. Thank you, Helene, for the recipe and pix!

Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Blood Orange Syrup:

Makes 8 mini cheesecakes

For the cheesecake:
1 cup (250ml) graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons (60gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup (200gr) sugar, divided
8 oz (240r) fresh mild goat cheese, at room temperature
8 oz (240gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
juice and zest of a whole lemon
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325F and position a rack in the middle. Line 8 standard sized muffin tins with liners and slighly spray with cooking spray. Place the muffin pan in a large roasting pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter and 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared muffin liners and pat with the back of a spoon. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool. Lower the heat to 300F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining sugar with the cheeses and the lemon zest on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Add the lemon juice and beat another 30 seconds. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin liners. Add hot water to the roasting pan but do not worry about coming up halfway the side of the muffin pan too much. The oven temperature is already so low that the water is just to be on the safe side. Add at least one inch inside the roasting pan.

Bake the mini cheesecakes for 20 minutes or until slightly giggling (or jiggle – whatever suits your mood) in the middle still. Keep an eye on them as they bake rather fast this way. Let cool completely before unmolding and serving with the blood orange syrup.

Notes: I made 8 small ones (baked in muffin tins) but you could make two 4-inch ones and bake them for about 10 minutes longer at the same heat.

For the blood orange syrup:
1 cup (250ml) fresh blood orange juice
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar

In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, stir together the blood orange juice and the sugar over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer down until the liquid is about reduced by half. Let cool and serve with the cheesecakes.

PS for gluten-free graham crackers, check out this recipe!

Caramel Lemon Chevre Brownies

Sooo much better than practically every chocolate dessert!

LunaCafe’s Burnt Caramel & Lemon Chevre Brownies

The flavor contrasts here are sophisticated and marvelous. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve these brownies to the most discriminating dinner guest. The bittersweet chocolate layer is deeply flavored with the addition of unsweetened cocoa powder and espresso. The caramel is just shy of burnt, with a complexity that pairs beautifully with the chocolate. The periodic hits of sharp, creamy lemon chevre filling are surprising and delightful. Every bite brings a different combination of the elements. This is NOT a children’s dessert, it’s an adult indulgence.

Even though these brownies are very rich and decadent, it’s hard to stop eating them. Fair warning. Do not put out a full plate of them unless you want your guests to fall victim to their powers.

SERVING NOTE   These brownies need time to set up before removing  from the pan and attempting to cut them. So be sure to bake well ahead of when you plan to serve them. I think they are even better one or even two days after baking.

Burnt Caramel (recipe below)
Lemon Chevre-Cream Cheese Filling
(recipe below)

2 teaspoons unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour to coat the baking pan

6 ounces best-quality, bittersweet chocolate (70-75% cacao)

1 cup King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
¼ cup best-quality unsweetened, natural cocoa powder (not alkalized or Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter 
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten

  1. Prepare Burnt Caramel and cool to room temperature. You can speed this up by putting the pan into an ice water bath, being careful of course not to get any of the water into the caramel.
  2. Prepare Lemon Chevre-Cream Cheese Filling. Reserve.
  3. Line an 8- by 8-inch, light colored, metal baking pan with aluminum foil, and then lightly butter and flour the foil, tapping out excess flour. Don’t be tempted to forgo the aluminum foil here. The caramel sticks to the pan like crazy. (A 9-by 9-inch baking pan will also work here as the batter rises to the rim of the 8- by 8-inch pan.)
  4. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, melt the chocolate in a microwave, giving it two 30 second intervals to begin with and then 10 second intervals thereafter, stirring after each interval with a dry spatula, until the chocolate softens and can be stirred smooth with a chopstick or narrow flexible spatula. (Be careful not to introduce even a drop of water into the chocolate during this process or subject the chocolate to too much heat, or it may seize and become irretrievably crumbly, rather than creamy and smooth.) Cool chocolate at room temperature to just barely warm.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, cacao, and baking soda together. Whisk thoroughly to distribute the cocoa powder and baking soda. Reserve.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars, and corn syrup until pale and creamy, a full 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla, espresso powder, and salt, and blend well.
  8. Add the egg and beat until incorporated and creamy, about 1 minute.
  9. Add the cooled chocolate and mix briefly to incorporate.
  10. Add the flour mixture to the batter and pulse just until combined.
  11. Spread half the brownie batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.
  12. Spoon mounds of Burnt Caramel evenly over the brownie batter.
  13. Spread the remaining half of brownie batter over the caramel mounds. You will need to spread gently in order not to mix the two layers.
  14. Spoon mounds of Lemon Chevre-Cream Cheese Filling on top of the brownie batter. Using a knife or tip of a rubber spatula, gently swirl the two batters together to that they are mixed but not completely blended.
  15. Tap the pan hard several times on the counter to level the layers.
  16. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. The batter will still jiggle somewhat in the center even after the brownies are done. The knife test won’t work here because the caramel is sticky and wet when hot. Do not overbake!
  17. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then lift the brownies from the pan with the foil. Peel away the foil from the sides and bottom of the brownies, and cut with a large chef’s knife into 2-inch squares. (You will need to dip the knife into hot water and wipe clean between each cut.)

Makes 16 brownies, about 2-inches high.

Burnt Caramel  

This is a beautiful, thick caramel that is taken almost to a burnt sugar edge in the caramelization process. If this is your first time making caramel, you will want to aim for a medium-amber rather than a dark-amber color. The latter takes a bit of practice. Just a shade too dark, and the caramel will have a bitter edge to it, which is not desirable.

1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup water

¾ cup heavy cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. To caramelize the sugar, in a 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears. To prevent crystallization, do not rush this first step; use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to wash down the sides of the saucepan.
  2. When the sugar is fully dissolved, raise the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and stop stirring. Continue heating without stirring until the syrup turns a medium-dark amber color. (An instant-read thermometer will test at 340°, but color alone is a better indicator.)
  3. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream and then the butter. The mixture will foam and sputter, so be very careful. When sputtering subsides, stir with a silicon spatula until smooth.
  4. Return to a boil and boil until the mixture reaches 250°. Add the salt and incorporate.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  6. To cool the caramel rapidly, pour it into a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Set the cup into a ice water bath, making sure that no water gets into the caramel while it is cooling.

Makes about 1 cup thick-set caramel.

Lemon Chevre-Cream Cheese Filling

This filling is excellent with chocolate brownies or cupcakes.

4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces fresh mild goat cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, goat cheese, and sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in the egg until creamy and then beat in the lemon zest and juice.
  3. Dollop the entire amount in mounds over the top of an 8- by 8-inch pan of brownie batter and swirl in, or top individual cupcakes with about two teaspoons of the filling.

Makes about 1½ cups.

Baked Ricotta, Savory or Sweet

I don’t specialize in low-fat recipes (shocking, I know), but this one is all about the ricotta, which is by nature low-fat. Wonderful to eat warm!

In testing for doneness, the cheese should not be completely dry in the middle. Similar to baking a cheesecake, the ricotta will swell slightly and retain a lazy wobble when set. As it cools, it will firm up some more, so keep that in mind while baking. Individual rounds can be made in muffin tins, and are pretty platemates to a simple salad.

Here are the ingredients for the savory version:

Ingredients
1 garlic clove, a fat and juicy one is best
Olive oil for greasing the dish
8 ounces fresh whole milk (goat or cow) ricotta
1/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs — chives, parsley, thyme
Zest from half a lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes or minced red chili (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 large egg white, lightly whisked

For the sweet cheese, simply eliminate the spices, grana padano cheese and garlic. Add 1/2 Cup of sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut the garlic clove in half horizontally and rub the cut sides against the interior of a 1-cup capacity ramekin. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the inside of the dish with oil. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, Grana Padano, herbs, lemon zest and chili (if using). Taste, then season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir in the whisked egg white. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the prepared ramekin and place on a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is puffed and almost set in the centre, and beginning to brown in spots, around 35 minutes depending on the dimensions of your ramekin. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Serve either in the dish or run a knife around the edge of the cheese and invert onto a serving plate with crackers or bread alongside. And maybe some wine too. Surely one with bubbles. Best warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 baked round, serving 4.

Thanks to Seven Spoons and Madame Fromage for the recipe and photo:)

Chevre Lollipops

These delights came from the Palace Cafe in Tulsa, OK. What an unexpected gem that restaurant was:) Wonderful bistro fare, prepared with fantastic fresh ingredients and healthy cooking techniques, gorgeous presentation and just the right quantity/quality. Puuurfect.

 

Crunchy-creamy! Amazing:)

 

Ingredients (makes 6 – 8 lollipops, enough for 2 people)

6 ounces of chilled chevre (fresh goat cheese)

1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup regular unseasoned or panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup tart cherry or mango chutney

6 popsicle sticks or barbecue skewers

10 ounces of peanut, corn or grapeseed oil for frying

Directions

Mix chevre and lemon juice + zest until well blended. Taking a tablespoon of of the mixture, roll the cheese into a perfect ball, roll the ball in a dish of the breadcrumbs until coated, and stick a popsicle stick or skewer into the ball. Make up the remainder of the cheese into similar skewered, crumb-coated balls.

Refrigerate the balls until cold and firm.

Heat the frying oil in an electric frypan until smoking hot.

Carefully lower the cheese balls into the hot oil and roll them around as they fry, so that they become crisp and brown on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-covered plate to drain. Keep them in a warm oven until ready to serve,. Put a small bowl of the chutney with the lollipops for dipping or spooning onto the lollipops. Drizzle honey around the lollipops for a jewel-like effect in presentation!