I can’t believe I forgot the cheese!

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At just about this point, I was suppose to top each of these eggplant meatballs with some mozzarella cheese and brown them in the oven… whoops.

Still worth making again for a meatless Monday entree though…

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Slice eggplant the long way, salt heavily and place in a colander for an hour to soften and get some water out. I then put my slices between some paper towels and a heavy weight for a few minutes for an extra oomph…

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Brown the strips in a hot skillet with olive oil.

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Toast some fresh bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and olive oil.

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Pulse the charred eggplant with the bread crumbs and egg

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Form mixture into meatballs ( yield for me was 12) and brown in skillet in olive oil. I then added marinara sauce and simmered as I showed above, but then was supposed to finish with the cheese.

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To serve I sautéed spinach with garlic and made some brown rice. I also think you could add ground walnuts to the veggie meatballs to get you an extra hit of protein!

Presto! New Dough!

IMG_5148Laminated dough that is the base for croissants and pain chocolat can be pokey at best and tortuous at worst. Mix, knead, chill, fold, chill, roll, fold, chill….you get the picture. I found a recipe for a creme fraiche tarte by Naomi Pomeroy ( whose wedding chicken I still have to make.  So called because it’s so good she served it at her own wedding!) on the Panna App.It’s the second time it has appeared on my Facebook feed from Panna, so I figured the pastry universe was trying to tell me something.

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It was quick and easy for a dough, surprisingly so. And although not as buttery as a true Parisian bakery, for a short dough, it was terrific and perfect for the application. I made half the recipe.  Start with flour, baking powder and very cold butter cut into cubes. Pulse in the food processor with dough blade until cornmeal type consistency is achieved.

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Add four ounces of creme fraiche and pulse again until the dough just comes together. It will be kind of “shaggy” as they say.  Lightly flour a surface and drop the dough out onto it.  Work the dough very slightly until its smooth and elastic, about 4 or 5 turns kneading. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

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Roll and fold per the recipe until you get the requisite strips of pastry.  Leave uncovered and freeze for 15 minutes.

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Bake in a 425° oven for 20 minutes until brown and puffy. Remove from oven, prick with a fork and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Meanwhile, back at the cheese crib, slice your brie….

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If you’re using Naomi’s half dried tomatoes or my tomato confit ( recipe later this week) get them to room temperature.

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Add the tomatoes and cheese in the order you prefer. I did not pay attention here and put cheese on top of tomatoes. Like all art, I think it’s personal…

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Back in the oven to melt the cheese for about 5 minutes…

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I cut one strip into 4 pieces and served over simply dressed greens and grilled asparagus. I froze the second strip for later in the week.

Now here’s the thing that I’m excited by. Short time investment for dough, big yield for possibilities of toppings…I’m thinking mushrooms in a cream sauce, or maybe Italian cold cuts, shredded and dressed with capers and olive oil, or even lemon curd and fresh cream. I mean, you could use puff pastry from your grocers freezer but why? Be brave!

The Irish Mammy…


Today is Mothering Sunday in the U.K. And Ireland, so I am re-sharing this gem by Seamus Heaney, one of Ireland’s laureates…

When all the others were away at Mass 
By Seamus Heaney
In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984
When all the others were away at Mass

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
(Voted as the favorite poem of Ireland of the last hundred years. )

Early Edition….Beach Bag Books

If you are heading someplace warm for April school vacation week, or if you have a long flight coming up , or if you just want to read something distracting and fun, I can honestly recommend both of these books.  Both were fun and easy, breezy reading, plot lines that are engaging, heroines that are a little off balance and both have fun twists at the end. Download to your device or borrow from the library. Totally enjoyable!

You say “kalpudding”, I say “meatloaf”

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The New York Times is always good for reporting on current outrages coming out of Washington DC and at the same time, making soothing “there, there” sounds disguised as a recipe page.  Sam Sifton’s relatable recipe for a caramelized cabbage and pork “pudding” caught my eye, if only because it calls for lingonberry jam at the end and I happen to have a small , sample sized jar in the pantry, left over from my “Try the World” subscription boxes of last year…IMG_8715IMG_1641

Such a simple and homey feeling recipe comprised of ( you guessed it) cabbage, ground pork, bread crumbs, some onions and cream. Start by shredding the cabbage and sautéing in butter and a bit of either brown sugar or corn syrup and molasses. I mean a tiny bit. As the author notes, we should not be eating that much sugar anyway. He recommends cooking it until almost “tantalizingly burnt”. ( Italics by the author)

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The recipe also calls for soy sauce and because my inventory of soy sauce is limited to the packets from take out Chinese food from HongKong Island and said inventory was in a current state of depletion, I used this Umami paste from Trader Joe’s. It did the trick.

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Remove one third of the cabbage to a bowl with about a cup of bread crumbs, a pound of ground pork, a diced onion, salt and pepper.  Mix them thoroughly by hand. Then add about 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Add a little at a time, you don’t want the mixture sopping wet, just moist like a meatloaf mix and there’s no egg or cheese to bind this. Butter a loaf pan and lay the mixture in it, pressing it down so there are no gaps in the mix. Top the mix with the remainder of the cabbage. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.  Serve with buttered fingerling potatoes and lingonberry jam.

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I also think this would be good sliced and served with a fried egg on top, but I’ll have to experiment to make sure. The jam offsets the cabbage nicely though. With about 20″ of snow expected this week, this was a great dish to have for dinner one snowy nite!

Do not drop hot caramel on your foot….

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I have made an orchard of apple pies in my time, but never a tarte tatin, the patisserie classic beloved by the French and served at the drop of a hat in every cafe and bistrot in the country and quite a few others…

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I had some miserable looking apples in the refrigerator drawer that kept winking at me trying to get my attention, so I finally took them out, and gave them a peel. Unlike apple pie, tarte tatin uses wedges not slices of apple. Aha, but the apples were the easy part.

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Start by putting about a cup of sugar into a hot cast iron skillet (Note: you MUST for safety, use a heavy pan like cast iron…) Once it reaches molten lava stage,  add little bits of butter and whisk constantly. The butter will foam, hence another reason for a heavy pot. Keep whisking…Add some Sel de Mer, aka sea salt, but the kind that comes in flakes like that from Brittany or Normandy. Keep whisking….

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Keep whisking….

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When the butter and sugar looks like caramel, place the apple wedges in even circles and cover with pastry crust. I used the single piece of puff pastry dough that was hanging out in the fridge, not far from the apple neighborhood. Bake in a 400° oven until brown and pastry is cooked through….IMG_0103

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Ok here is where I recommend you put your shoes on because this is when it gets dicey. Unlike pie that comes out of the oven right side up, you have to FLIP the tarte tatin over! I used the pie pan that I normally bake pie in. And I recommend flipping it over the sink to avoid a tragedy. And you will need hot mitts.

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Just look at that caramel! Top with your favorite of whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or cheese….

It’s Barramundi Nite….

Of course sung to the tune of ” Ta Rah Rah Boom De Aye”….

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If you’ve been with Cashmere Tea for a while, you know about my affection for Barramundi, the sustainable sea bass from the waters near Australia, although the distance sort of negates the sustainability. Anyway, it’s sold at Market Basket and Friday nite, I tried out my newest twist on it courtesy of Pinterest.

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All you need are fresh tomatoes, olive oil, some basil, garlic and salt and pepper. You need white beans, fish and butter too!  Start out by cutting tomatoes into nickel size pieces, or cherry tomatoes in half. Marinate them and the white beans in olive oil, garlic, and basil. They only need about an hour. Then toss everything in a hot skillet and move it around. The tomatoes will pop and sizzle and that’s ok. They should break down a little.

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Now here’s where I went off course. I did not move everything out of the pan to put the fish in. I just moved things off to the side and made room. I nestled the barramundi right in the pan and gave it about 4 minutes on each side.

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At the end, just add a big knob of butter and let it melt down and stir gently. Remove the fish to a platter and add the beans and tomatoes on top. I added some sunflower sprouts for some crunch.

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This was totally delicious! Very sunny and Mediterranean tasting and dead easy to make. Because of the beans, you don’t even need a potato or rice on the plate. Ok? All together now….”It’s barramundi nite, it’s barramundi nite..” Come on , you know the words.

Long live the PIGLET!

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Just a reminder to join in a little bracketology of the culinary kind this March. From Food52 the annual bracket and jousting of cookbooks in America. So much more fun and allows you to live vicariously through the reviewers. Add them to your Amazon list in case you need a quick gift for a cooking friend or for yourself. Sometimes new inspiration comes in a cookbook…Check it out on Food52.com and look for the Piglet link. Viva La Pig!

Mardi Gras is late this year…

Mostly because I forgot about this “killah” recipe that the Hubs made a couple of weeks ago. He found it on America’s Test Kitchen on PBS one Saturday and set about making it the next nite. You can read the recipe, but it wasn’t very complicated and Hubs easily found the cajun seasoning mentioned at the local market. Or you can make your own . The sauce if terrific and it was not take your breath away hot. Just a mild cajun taste to remind you of NOLA!

Tiny Tarte

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I knew I bought those ring molds in Paris for a reason! Saw this easy peasy clip of a tiny taste that can be whipped up in about 20 minutes as an add on for salad, or a more substantial appetizer.

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Peel and slice 2 small onions and sauce in butter with any fresh herb you might happen to have. I used the tarragon I had left from a previous recipe. You also need to add about 1/4 tsp of sugar and let the onions really caramelize in the pan. Move them so they don’t stick.

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Roll out a premade pie dough sheet or puff pastry sheet ( shown here) and use either a ring mold or round cookie cutter to cut the bottom and tops.

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Leave the ring mold in place and add the sautéed onions and the tiniest bit of shredded cheese end of your choice like gruyere or swiss. Top with the second disk of dough and remove the ring mold.

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Brush the top with egg wash and bake in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until the top crust browns nicely. The onions will mostly stay inside, but are easily coached back into place with a fork. Use a spatula to slide off the baking tray and place on plate or salad the has been pre dressed!