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Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

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Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

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Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

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Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!


Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

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It’s not quite rhubarb season in So. Cal but I can still find it almost anywhere. It’s a little pale and green, and not that bright red that it usually is later in the year, however I love the taste. It’s tart and disgusting on it’s own, but when you cook it down, with some sugar and love, the juices come out, the sugar envelopes the whole thing, and it’s pure magic. I’m sure the one best thing about summer is strawberry and rhubarb crust cake (which I can’t wait to make either).

However, strawberries weren’t in my fridge, and although the natural sweetness of these berries helps the rhubarb a lot, raspberries really added a different level of flavor. I’m in love with it, no matter how you put it.

It’s my first time trying a crostata, and I usually shy away from rolling desserts, like cookies (unless scooped or sliced), and pies. Simply because I always have to make a few batches of the dough as at least one must always stick to my counter regardless of the amount of flour I add to it. In any case, this was a 100% winner.

For crust

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

For filling

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups 1/2″-thick slices rhubarb, approximately 6 stalks
  • 1 6 ounce container fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • brown sugar

To make the crust:

Combine both flours, sugar, and salt in a processor; blend for 5 seconds. Add butter; pulse until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl to blend; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form.

Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours. The crust can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For the filling:

Dissolve cornstarch in 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl; set aside. Combine rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and juices are released, about 4 minutes.

Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil (rhubarb will not be tender and slices will still be intact). Transfer to a bowl. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

seems very mushy right now, but it’s pure deliciousness.

Preheat oven to 400°F Roll out dough on floured parchment paper to 12″ round; brush with beaten egg. Mound filling in center of crust; gently spread out, leaving 1 1/2″ border.

Gently fold edges of dough over filling, pleating as needed. Brush border with egg; sprinkle with raw sugar. Slide parchment with crostata onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes( although mine was ready in half an hour). Let crostata cool on baking sheet on a rack. Transfer crostata to a platter, cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes about 8 servings (10, if you’re really skimpy).


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So Christmas is in a week and I’m in the spirit of baking, cooking, searing, and soaking everything I possibly can as long as it’s got Christmas somewhere in it.

I had my Christmas Part with friend last Friday and it was a blast. I opted for a lot of finger foods, and my friend offered some lovely chili which I ate gluttonously the next morning before work. I have been pottering away at my Nigella cookbooks and a few stars of the show (Christmas Spiced Nuts and Pistachio Fudge) will make another appearance as I head out to family parties and give some Hostess gifts.

First, I got a hold of some fresh cranberries, and what better way than to make my Cranberry Bakewell Tart (courtesy Nigella). I have to say that the recipe was a slight challenge as I added too much water to the dough, however, it came out perfectly, and deliciously.

Next to that I had my lovely spiced peaches to go to friends and family, and spiced Christmas nuts.

Cranbery Bakewell Tart

For the pastry
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 stick plus 1 tbsp cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1-3 tbsp iced water
pinch salt

Put the flour, almonds and confectioners sugar into a food processor and pulse together. Add the diced butter and process again until the mixture looks like oatmeal.

Beat together the egg, salt and ice water and tip down the funnel of the food processor as it is running, to bind the pastry. Form the pastry into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge.

For the filling
1 stick plus 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
zest and juice of 1 clementine
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 cup cranberry jam*
8 oz royal icing

Preheat the oven to 400.
Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly. Beat together the sugar, eggs and zest, then add in the melted butter, stir in the ground almonds. Roll out the disc of pastry to fit in a 10 inch deep fluted tart pan with a removable base, and prick the base with a fork. Spread the jam onto the pastry and pour over the almond mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes, leave to cool completely on a wire rack. once cooled make the royal icing using the juice from the clementine, work over the top of the tart and decorate with almonds, nonpareils, cranberries, etc.

Cranberry Jam* 

This cranberry jam is the easiest recipe ever, and the one which is well worth it.

Take 4 cups of fresh cranberries to 1 3/4 cups sugar and about 1/4 cup of water and dissolve sugar in water. After this is done, and it will take a while, you raise the heat to make the mixture boil, about 10-12 minutes.

DONE! Let cool before adding to tart above.

Spiced Christmas Nuts
4 cups of assorted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts).
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5 tablespoons of celery salt
kosher salt to taste
In a large skillet add nuts and heat for 3 minutes. Add oil and spices, leaving the salt out, and mix for another 7 minutes or so, making sure everything is glossed with the spices.
Pitch out onto a plate or aluminum tin and season with salt to taste.

shown: almonds, cashew, walnuts, and pecans

perfect for gifting!

Lastly, my spiced peaches for my boyfriend’s mother will be the tie in to the post. It’s really awesome, in my opinion, to give the gift of food and deliciousness. It’s not that it’s hard to find gifts for her, and in fact I’ve already done that, but it’s fun to get people stuff throughout the December time without them expecting it, and even if they do (because they know me so well) it’s nice to give all month long!

Sealed and Stored

Spiced Peaches
These are wonderfully perfect. You can eat them hot or room temperature, as long as they’re stored in a sterile jar and sealed they can keep for 6 months and if not sealed about 5 days in the fridge.
2 14-oz cans of peach halves in syrup
an inch of ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper corns
3 cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
Add peaches with syrup into a pot or deep pan. Let warm through about 2 minutes, add Vinegar, ginger root, cloves, black pepper  corns and cinnamon sticks. Let come to boil (about 5 minutes) and take off heat. Serve or store in sterile jars.