Lemon Tart with Salted Pecan Crust

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Spring emits feelings of lightness; airy, warm days that bring flowers to our garden and happiness in our lives. Citrus season is here, so in that honor I have whipped up a very easy, wholesome lemon tart. This tart has an incredible nut crust that adds a salty crunch to the music. In the curd, I used Eureka lemons. They are notorious for being extra juicy and tart; exactly what I needed to contrast the crust. The curd is subtle in sweetness, so as to not be overbearing. I find that a lot of lemon curds seem to taste like sweetened custard. Being a culinarian, I like my sweets to have a luscious texture and sharp flavor a.k.a mouth confetti. Every sweet treat should be a cause for internal celebration!

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Lemon Tart:

1/2 c Eureka lemon juice

1/2 Lemon Zested

1/4 c Coconut sugar

6 T Earth Balance

3 Egg Yolks + 2 Whole Eggs

1/4 t cornstarch (or arrowroot)

Crust:

1 c pecans

1/4 c hazelnuts

3 T raw honey, warmed (or maple syrup)

1 t sea salt

1 dash cinnamon

1.5 c olive oil

Grind the pecans and hazelnuts. Add in the remaining ingredients and “rub” the crust together like you would a biscuit dough. If  it is too dry, add more olive oil until it can stick together. Press into the bottom of your tart shell and bake in the oven at 350 until slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove.

To make the curd, whisk the sugar, eggs and starch in a pot. I recommend making a slurry with the cornstarch, or sifting it on-top of your wet ingredients before whisking it in to prevent lumps. Once combined, add the lemon. Whisk constantly until it is thick and creamy. Once it starts to resemble a freshly made pudding, remove from heat and whisk in the earth balance. If you wait until it gets too set (too thick) you will overcook the curd. You should be able to coat the back of a spoon with it before removing it from heat. Strain it if you notice it has some lumps, or if you are in pursuit of curd perfection. Pour filling into tart shell. Pop back into the oven and allow the curd to set. About 20 mins.

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Gluten Free Spring

So these past few weeks I have really been trying my best to have enough time to cook dinner (or at least eat it). It is a challenge to get home at a decent hour to do so! On my days off, though, I love to make it. It’s considerably my playtime. This past friday I stopped in at Whole Foods and remembered why I oh so adore spring! So many beautiful vegetables! This pasta dish is entirely gluten-free, dairy free, and can easily be vegan without the egg. I used local eggs, all organic vegetables & aromatics, and homegrown herbs.

ImageSpring Pasta Dish: (4-6p)

1 lb. Gluten Free Pasta

1 bu. Asparagus

4-6 Eggs (1 per)

1 Myer Lemon

1/2 bulb fennel (and fennel fronds to garnish)

4 clv Garlic

1 tsp chili-garlic sauce

1/4 c vegetable broth

6 sprigs Thyme

8 leaves Basil

3 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs Vegan Butter

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

Mise en Place:

First, get two pots of hot water going for the pasta and the eggs; fill a smaller pot 2/3 of the way and a large pot completely. Wash the fennel and asparagus then slice into 1/4″ pieces.  Zest the lemon and cut in half. Mince the garlic, thyme, and half the basil. When the water (for the eggs) comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Gently crack the egg into the water once it has dropped in temperature. With a wooden spoon, hold the egg white over the egg yolk gently for about a minute; this is so when the egg has finished cooking it will be more rounded and less flat. Once the white of the egg is 95% cooked, remove it and place on a paper towel. Keep the water heated at a lower temperature to re-heat the egg.

Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. In a pan, combine the garlic, herbs, vegan butter, olive oil and allow to heat, once the garlic starts to perfume, add the Asparagus. Once it starts to become tender, add the Fennel, vegetable broth, and chili. Turn down the heat and add the cooked pasta. Toss the pasta, season with S&P, then allow to cook in the pan slightly (to meld all the ingredients together). Add the lemon zest and a little juice at the last-minute, give it a toss, and plate into a warmed pasta dish. Put the egg on a spoon and re-warm it for 30 seconds in the hot water. Place on top of the pasta. Garnish with the fennel fronds and some of the zest. A little salt atop will finish the dish.

 

Bon Appetite!

Dairy Free Creme Anglaise

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Every once in awhile, I flip through my French Laundry cookbook and gaze longingly at the cinnamon ice cream and the gorgeous petite fours. The other day, I recalled a conversation that I once had with Chef Keller about allergies and intolerances. He inspired me to create this alternative creme anglaise; one without dairy.

Almond Milk Creme Anglaise:

5 egg yolks

3/8 c sugar

2 c almond milk

1 t vanilla

1 T cornstarch

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and yolks. In a pot, heat the milk and vanilla until it simmers. Temper the yolks by slowly adding in the heated milk in stages. Once thoroughly incorporated, pour through a strainer, into a pot. Add the cornstarch to the mixture and place the pot on a medium flame. Whisk until the mixture has thickened to a custard consistency, or can coat the back of a wooden spoon. Promptly remove from heat to avoid overcooking the yolks.

This anglaise is perfect for my Dairy Free Creamsicle recipe or can be used as a substitute in any dessert with anglaise.

Cheating on the classic Trifle

Every once in a while its good to cheat! I made these great, berry cupcakes and it took me very little time and effort, but the payoff was fantastic.

I spent most of my weekend running errands and spending time with my family so baking from scratch was on my ‘not to do’ list. I had some berry compote leftover from the previous day, though, and I wanted to bake it into something to see how it would come out. By using the compote I didnt have to use any added fat to these cupcakes and they were very moist. The only trade off is that they have simple carbohydrates in them (sugar and non-whole grain flour mix) but they have a lot of antioxidants from the berries and are a great sweet treat. A great trade off from eating a walloping piece of trifle cake with whipped cream; less fat and sugar by far, but just as satisfying! I also sprinkled some chia seeds on-top for added omega-3’s.

I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free vanilla cake mix for this recipe, you can use any of your favorite vanilla cake mix recipes, just nix any fats or oils & 1/3 of the sugar.

To prepare:

1/2 pint of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (you can add strawberries in as well!)

3 T of honey

2 T of lemon juice

Cake Mix

3 eggs (or whatever your mix requests)

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The night before wash all of the berries really well in cold water. If you use strawberries as well, cut all of the tops off and quarter them. Mix berries with lemon juice and honey until they are beginning to macerate. It is important that they do this so that they end up having 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of liquid. Put the compote in a sealable plastic bag, in the fridge, until tomorrow.

Preheat the oven at whatever teperature is recommended by the cake mix recipe. Add the berry compote into the vanilla cake mix. Lightly beat the eggs and add them in as well. As you can see, my cake mix ended up being a really smooth consistancy, if you feel yours is too thick add in some applesauce or just a splash of almond milk to smooth things out.

Spray your cupcake tin with fat free spray (you can easily find this at your local grocer) and pour mix into baking cups. Using an ice cream scoop is the best way to keep them consistently sized. Sprinkle some chia seeds on top, or perhaps some flax if you have them.

Bake until the edges are lightly browned (**use a cake tester to make sure they are not gooey in the center).

My dad liked them hot out of the oven with a little butter (or earth balance). Lemon icing would be great as well. I personally thought they were very sweet and moist so they were perfect on their own with a mug of coffee.

Let me know what you think!

Quick & Healthy Cookies

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You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting many recipes as of late; I have been experimenting with a diet. Wow, that sounds lame. I always eat very healthy, but now and again life calls for cutbacks. No cookies, no treats, no heavy meals. Swimsuit season is right around the corner so now it is cuts season.

With that in mind I have been eliminating refined carbohydrates, the stuff that slips through the cracks and finds its way to your waist. As well, a lot of fat meaning peanut butter, oil, etc. etc. I know being healthy and cutting back isn’t glamorous, but it is effective! So far I do feel healthier with less fat and simple carbs. I do feel more energetic with the elimination of refined sugar, though I do crave it!

With cutbacks in mind and cravings in tow, I made peanut butter & jelly oatmeal cookies. I decided if I were to give in to one of my cravings it would be peanut butter. I use Natural which eliminates any extra oil. They are gluten free, dairy free, & low sugar. If you use egg replacer, easily vegan also!

These cookies are also full of fiber, protein, vitamins A & E, and Omegas (from the egg). So while they seem to be lackluster in all those un-healthy fats, simple carbs & sugars, they are full of nutrition and taste amazing. Its a win-win-win…with a bit of slam-dunk if I do say so myself.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cookies:

1 C Peanut Butter, Natural

2/3 C Whole, Gluten free Oats

1/3 C Gluten Free Granola

2 T Sugar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 Egg

Low-Sugar Raspberry Jelly

Method-

Set oven to 325℉. Combine all ingredients except jelly. Use two spoons and ‘drop’ rounds onto a ungreased baking sheet. Use the bottom of a rounded teaspoon to make little imprints in the cookies. Put a small amount of jelly, about 1/2 a teaspoon, into each cookie and bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool and enjoy with a cup of coffee or almond milk!