Crying While Cooking

Jean Poutine came for supper the other night before we went to see the movie Monsieur Lazhar, a lovely Canadian film that is an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. I didn’t feel like going out for groceries, so I did what I often do in those circumstances: take a look to see what I have and Google the ingredients for a recipe.  I had onions and feta, and I found several intriguing recipes for onion and feta tarts. I based mine mainly on the recipe from A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit.

I used both red and yellow onions. They were pretty powerful and I had a pretty good crying jag going, when I heard my cat meowing from her regular perch on top of the fridge. She was shaking her head and had tears pouring from her eyes. The poor thing had been overtaken by onion fumes.

I wiped her tears and put her outside for some fresh air. I didn’t take a video of her crying – it seemed too mean – but if I had, I could have put it onto the Crying While Eating website. Although strictly speaking, we were crying while cooking.

I caramelised the onions with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper using the recipe from A Pot of Tea… Mine took a couple of hours, and you really have to watch it near the end of the cooking time so they don’t burn.

I used a frozen store-bought crust instead of making my own and it turned out fine. I just thawed it in the fridge and then rolled it flat between two sheets of parchment paper, mending where needed with a bit of water and my fingers. I loaded some of the caramelised onions into the bottom of the tart and crumbled 150g of feta cheese on top along with some thyme.  For a rustic look I folded in the edges of the crust and brushed them with an egg wash. My baking time was shorter than the recipe – you just have to watch it. It’s done when the crust is browned and the cheese is melted.

I had some quinoa on hand so I made one of my favorite salads which is basically cooked quinoa with whatever you have in the fridge that seems like a good idea to throw in there. The secret is the dressing: 2 Tbsp of melted honey and 2 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice. This time it had arugula, red onion, avocado, roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. The cranberries were a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law.  They are from Cranberries Naturally in Fort Langley BC and they use orange to flavour them – delicious!

Both Jean Poutine and The Man With Whom I Keep Company gave the meal two thumbs up, so I’ll definitely be adding it into the rotation!

Pie Fight

A duel to the death between Jean Poutine and King Crabby.

The weapons:

Jean Poutine’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Mousse Pie (recipe from Rhubarb by Sandi Vitt and Michael Hickman, University of Alberta Press).

Versus:

King Crabby’s Lemon Tart topped with Rhubarb Compote.

The verdict? The strawberry-rhubarb pie was light, very tart and refreshing.

The lemon tart was rich, smooth, creamy, intensely lemony but, surprisingly, not overly tart.

I declare a tie. The only victim was our blood-sugar levels.

Posted by Jean Poutine

Princess of Tarts?

JP, have you ever had a tart by the Queen of Tarts? If not you need to go to the downtown farmer’s market this weekend and get yourself one. Their lemon tarts are one of the best desserts I have ever had. A few years ago we had some friends and their parents over for dinner and had one of the lemon tarts. Their mom claimed she had a recipe very similar to the Queen’s recipe. She sent it to me and despite good intentions, I never tried making the recipe until tonight.

I combined lemon juice, butter, sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a bowl.

Then made a makeshift double boiler.

The recipe warned it would take a while for the curd to cook and they weren’t kidding.

It took about 10 minutes for it to start to set up. For a while I thought I had made a mistake with the recipe.

Finally it set up. I put that spoon in my mouth after this photo and it was rich, smooth and tart.

I did not trust my lemon curd making skills so I made the crust after I knew the curd was successful. The only ingredients in the crust are flour, butter and icing sugar.

Perfectly golden brown!

The curd filled the shell perfectly. Although after looking at this for a while, I decided it was missing something.

So I robbed some rhubarb from someone’s garden.

I  cooked the bounty with some sugar.

Then I topped the tart with the rhubarb. I’m not saying it will be close to being as good as the Queen of Tarts, but it is a darn fine start. We didn’t eat it tonight. We will bring it over tomorrow for an official taste test.

Posted by King Crabby

Dinner at Home

Last night my co-blogger, Ms. Crabby, and her spousal unit came over for a midweek meal.

Menu

Bread Salad with Tomatoes
Linguine with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
Apple Pie

Bread salad with tomatoes

The first recipe I’ve made from this book my sister gave me for Christmas:

It’s a self-published cookbook with profiles of Edmonton area food producers who sell at farmers markets.

The recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes – not available this time of year, so I used some local hothouse tomatoes in various colours. You sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Then you rip up some “rustic” bread and toast it in the oven. Put in a bowl and liberally splash with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The recipe also calls for flax seed oil which I omitted. I didn’t want to buy it because it’s expensive and not something I see myself using much (have you noticed how flax is everywhere these days? Like chipotle. Or like oat bran used to be about 20 years ago but you hardly see anymore). Sorry, back on topic.

Toss in the salty tomatoes (and the tomato water that accumulates in the bowl) and let the bread soak everything up for about 15 minutes. Top with some shaved cheese and fresh basil.

I know you had issues with the soggy bread, Crabby. I liked the salad, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I would make this recipe again – at least not the same way. I think I might add the tomatoes just before serving so the bread is still crisp.

Linguine with spinach & walnut pesto

I had a lot spinach I needed to use (spinach salad just doesn’t use it up fast enough). The recipe was on-line.

Toast some walnut halves and whole cloves of garlic in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Add salt. Save some of this mixture as a garnish (or just eat it all right now ’cause it’s so delicious and the smell of garlic sautéing is guaranteed to make you hungry).

Wilt fresh spinach in a skillet. Throw everything in the blender (the recipe says food processor but I’ve never owned one). Add some olive oil (and water if necessary) and whiz away. Stir in freshly grated parmesan.

Toss with Linguine (or spaghetti or whatever) and some reserved pasta water. Top with the walnuts you set aside if you didn’t eat them.

Apple Pie

Pretty standard recipe. Apples, white and brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some grated rind. Let it sit in the bowl for a while to get all juicy before you put it in the crust.

Plenty of leftovers (I had pie for breakfast!).

Posted by Jean Poutine