Archive for June 2012

Linguine with Chard and Bacon

June 29th, 2012 — 11:14am

june-2012-247This pasta recipe from The Locavore’s Kitchen: A Cook’s Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving by Marilou Suszko is one of my new favorites. Larry found the cookbook at the library and we’ve made a few great dishes from it—including a great appetizer of radishes with honey goat cheese. Larry has made the Linguine with Chard and Bacon twice in the past two weeks. We picked up most of the ingredients from the farmers’ market—fresh RP’s pasta, Fountain Prairie Farm bacon, red onion, swiss chard, and the garlic cloves came straight from the garden. Precisely the definition of a Locavore.

Linguine with Chard and Bacon (From The Locavore’s Kitchen; makes 6 servings)

1 pound fried linguine (we used fresh RP’s pasta)
12 to 15 slices thick-sliced bacon (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bunches chard, stems removed, cut into thin ribbons
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (tender with a firm bite), about 12 to 14 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. Cover the pasta with a sheet of plastic wrap to keep it warm.

Return the pot to the stove over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add the onion and saute over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the chard and the reserved pasta liquid and cook until the chard is wilted and tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the vinegar over the chard and toss for an additional minute.

Add the linguine back to the pot. Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Add the bacon and cheese and toss until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.june-2012-251

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Fresh Strawberry Tart With Lemon Cream

June 29th, 2012 — 8:32am

june-2012-240As described in the introduction of this recipe in the cookbook Craft of Baking, “everything about this tart says summer.” I’d have to agree. It’s one of those desserts that only truly works with fresh strawberries—straight from the patch or a farmers’ market stand. I picked up the berries from the farmers’ market on the square on Saturday, and made this tart as part of a dinner Larry and I hosted for a few friends last Sunday. It was the perfect ending to a fabulous dinner on particularly hot summer night. Sweet, refreshing, and oh, so good.

Fresh Strawberry Tart With Lemon Cream (from Craft of Baking; makes one 9 1/2-inch tart)

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for rolling
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Dough (recipe below)
1 cup heavy cream
Lemon Curd
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, large strawberries halved

For tart:
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into an 11-inch round. Fit the dough into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the edges of the pan, and use a paring knife to trim the excess dough along the top edge. Prick the bottom all over with a fork, and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the chilled tart shell with a round of parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of the crust are just beginning to turn golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Return the crust to the oven and continue baking until it is golden all over, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack and let the tart shell cool completely.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until it becomes thick enough to hold a peak. Fold about half of it into the lemon curd, and then fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Pour the lightened lemon curd into the tart shell and spread out evenly.

Arrange the strawberries close together in concentric circles over the lemon curd, placing any halved strawberries cut side down. Lightly cover the tart with plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator until cold, about 1 hour, or up to 4 hours. Remove the outer ring of the tart pan before serving.

The tart is best eaten the day it is prepared.

Cream Cheese Dough (makes enough for two 8- to 10-inch single-crust pies or tarts or one double-crust pie)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and there are no visible chunks of butter or cream cheese, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Turn out the dough onto a clean lightly floured work surface. Divide it in half, shape into flattened disks, and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. (The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using.)june-2012-234

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Creamy Strawberry Crepes

June 28th, 2012 — 7:41am

june-2012-131My love for crepes was originally inspired by my friend Jill and her study abroad stint in Paris during college. Her stories of lazy afternoons spent at glorious patisseries inspired me, and likely several others, to invest in a crepe pan and a big tub of Nutella. It took quite a bit of practice and a few helpful tips from Jill, but eventually I became semi-proficient at crepe flipping. With a few quarts of fresh strawberries from the market, I couldn’t resist breaking out my crepe pan this past weekend. A little more practice never hurts!

Creamy Strawberry Crepes (From Taste of Home; makes 7 servings)

4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
Additional butter

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced, divided
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, water, butter and salt. Add flour; beat until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In an 8-inch nonstick skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter; pour 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of skillet. Lift and tilt pan to evenly coat bottom.

Cook until top appears dry; turn and cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, adding butter to skillet as needed. When cool, stack crepes with waxed paper or paper towels in between.

For filling, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, peel and vanilla until smooth. Fold in 2 cups of berries and whipped cream. Spoon about 1/3 cup filling down the center of 15 crepes; roll up. Garnish with remaining berries and confectioners’ sugar. freeze remaining crepes for another use.june-2012-137

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Fresh Strawberries and Lemon Curd

June 25th, 2012 — 6:57am

My new favorite summertime treat…


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Iron Chef Lime: A Tropical Feast

June 25th, 2012 — 6:54am

plateWith a theme ingredient like lime, this month’s Iron Chef Dinner could have spun in one of several directions. Interestingly, the meal was best defined by shrimp and tropical foods. There were grilled shrimp skewers with red peppers and mangoes, a jicama salad, two versions of ceviche, a lime pesto spread, margaritas, red pepper grilled shrimp, strawberry lime ice, and a pistachio lime angel food cake. It was one of those iron chef dinners when all of the dishes came together harmoniously. The only dish that seemed to be missing was key lime pie!june-2012-160

Larry took the lead on preparing our three dishes—the jicama salad, ceviche, and strawberry lime ice. All were inspired by Rick Bayless recipes. I was impressed to learn that Larry juiced 30 limes and drove to Oregon (20 minutes south of Madison) to pick up farm-fresh strawberries for the lime ice. That’s the kind of dedication that makes an Iron Chef!


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cLips of Faith Beer & Bike Festival

June 22nd, 2012 — 5:23am

Last night’s New Belgium Brewery’s cLips of Faith Beer & Film Festival at Olin Park.







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Iron Chef Dinner Lime

June 20th, 2012 — 3:51am

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Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream and Macerated Strawberries

June 19th, 2012 — 11:50am

june-2012-103I’ve been eating a ridiculous amount of strawberries lately, trying to make the most of their fleeting season. Last week was my first attempt at making strawberry shortcakes from scratch. The quintessential strawberry dessert. I used a recipe from the cookbook, Earth to Table. One thing I love most about the cookbook is how the authors take simple dishes and elevate their status with names like “Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream and Macerated Strawberries.” Very fancy. With day-of market fresh strawberries nestled in a bed of whipped cream in between a sandwich of soft, flaky goodness, these shortcakes were a real treat.

Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream and Macerated Strawberries (from Earth to Table; makes 8 individual cakes or 20 mini cakes)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1 1/4 cups whipping (35%) cream
Additional whipping cream, for brushing
Icing sugar, for dusting

Macerated Strawberries
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
4 cups fresh summer strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Chantilly Cream
1 cup whipping (35%) cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Prepare the shortcakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a stand or hand grater, grate in butter. Using a wooden spoon, mix in cream until dough comes together.

Turn out onto a floured surface and pat dough into a 1-inch-thick circle. Using a round cutter, cut into 3-inch rounds (for mini cakes, use a 2-inch cutter). Transfer dough circles to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush tops of dough circles with cream and dust with icing sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, 10 minutes for minis.

Prepare the strawberries: Using a paring knife, split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and gently scrape seeds into a large bowl. Add strawberries and sugar; toss to combine. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Makes 4 cups.

Prepare the Chantilly cream: In a bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and vanilla; whip until just combined. Makes 1 cup.

To assemble: Cut shortcakes in half horizontally. For each serving, place the bottom half of shortcake on a plate and generously spoon on strawberries and juices. Dollop with Chantilly cream and cover with top half of shortcake. Dust with icing sugar. june-2012-083



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Willy Porter at Art in the Barn

June 19th, 2012 — 10:21am





This past Saturday night, Larry and I, along with our friends Greg and Heidi, headed to Art in the Barn (in Fitchburg) to catch a concert by Willy Porter (also a fundraiser for Haiti Allies). Willy is one of my longtime favorite live performers. I’ve seen him play at least a dozen times—in Ann Arbor, Green Lake, and Milwaukee. He’s a very talented guitarist and passionate songwriter. More than anything, I enjoy the stories he tells in between songs—about his time on the road, his daughter, complaints from neighbors about his unkempt lawn—all of the many experiences that inspire him to pick up his guitar and write a song.

It was a perfect summer night for a concert. Our original plan was to bike to the barn (about a 30-mile round trip), but threats of thunderstorms altered the plan. Instead, we drove there and staked out a spot for a picnic in a nearby field alongside many other concertgoers. We drank lemonade and Wollersheim Rose, and snacked on Larry’s impressive spread of radishes with honey goat cheese, strawberries dipped in lemon curd, Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar with Potters Crackers, sugar snap peas, and RP’s pasta with garlic scape pesto. The atmosphere and music in the barn were equally impressive. Just a wonderful setting for a summer picnic and concert.

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Creamed Peas and New Potatoes

June 18th, 2012 — 11:41am

may-2012-230Larry has vivid memories of eating creamed peas and new potatoes at his grandparents’ when he was younger. As the story goes, it was a cold, rainy spring day and Larry was out on the farm helping his grandfather and cousin bring the cows back from pasture. When they finally finished the job, tired and chilled-to-the bone, they came into the house and sat down to this warm, creamy dish his grandmother had whipped up from the early spring harvest of peas and potatoes.

A couple weeks ago, we happened to buy both peas and new potatoes at the farmers’ market, inspiring a re-creation of the dish Larry remembers so fondly. Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by a bowl of potatoes and peas, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s simple, filling, comforting, and heart-warming. I can see why it would have been such a treat for Larry after a hard day of farm work on a cool spring day.

Creamed Peas and New Potatoes (from; serves 4)
15 tiny new potatoes
1-1 1/2 c. shelled peas
1 (4 oz.) carton chive whipped cream cheese
1/4 c. low fat milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until done; drain well. Cook peas in boiling salted water 8-15 minutes; drain well. Blend cream cheese with milk; add salt. Stir over low heat until warm. Combine potatoes and peas in serving dish. Pour cream cheese sauce over vegetables.

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