Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Key Lime Raspberry Tart

I love raspberries, and pretty much any summer fruit - from strawberries to peaches. I know that raspberries aren't even remotely close to being in season on January, the dead of winter here in Brooklyn. Still, since I was able to find some pretty good sweet raspberries from FreshDirect that were available this time of year, I decided to go ahead and use them in a raspberry tart. I looked up a number of different recipes for raspberry tarts online before settling on my own variation that incorporated elements from each. I decided to go with a key lime flavor for the tart, using some key limes and key lime juice that I had. The key lime juice was great, by the way and so much easier than squeezing the juice out of those tiny little key limes (a nightmare, if I recall). I plan to use it in making key lime creme brulee next! To make a tart, you need to use a tart dish of course. I used the kind where the sides separate from the bottom of the tart dish after the tart is baked and prepared, which was the perfect tool to make a lovely berry tart.

Sasha's Raspberry Key Lime Tart
1 stick cold butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup almond flour
2 tsp water

1 large egg, beaten until it is almost meringue like
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
3 large eggs'1 1/4 cup buttermilk
3 T butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 T key lime zest
2 T key lime juice
fresh raspberries

To prepare the tart shell, beat the butter and sugar. The add the flour and salt and beat until just combined. Then add the almond flour. Add two tsp of water and beat for about three minutes until it finally comes together into a dough. Form into a disk and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Roll the dough out and fit into a 10-11 inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate until firm, for another 20 minutes or so. Preheat oven to 325 and bake for about 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bottom to flatten. Allow to cool when it comes out.

To prepare the filling, beat the egg while until fluffy, like if you were making a souffle. Combine the flour and sugar, and add the eggs. Fold in the egg white, until just blended. Stir in the key lime juice and key lime zest. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325 for another 25 minutes until the filling is set and jiggles just slightly. Allow to cool, and arrange the raspberries on the surface to top. Remove the sizes of the tart dish before serving.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Sweet Pea Pesto

Pesto time - one of my favorite pasta dishes, and each time I make a pesto, I like to try something a little bit different. A few months ago, last time I made a pesto dish, I was visiting my parents in Rochester and we made a spicy pesto with caramelized U12 scallops, which was delicious. Yesterday, I received my most recent shipment of food from ShopRite as part of the Potluck Blog Panel. Each of the shipments have a theme, and the theme this month was the 40th anniversary of the ShopRite Can-Can Sale which was a winter sale on canned food that started in the 1970s after the holidays where customers would stock up on canned food for the winter.

This is the perfect time of year for some quality canned products in the dead of winter in the northeast (hello, I think blizzard number two is coming this weekend) since fresh fruits and vegetables are scarce this time of year. I was planning on making a simple fettuccine pesto for dinner, but decided to jazz it up with the delicious can of sweet peas that I found in the box. I had never head peas in my pesto before, but it was a perfect combination and a wholesome and delicious dish. I made my pesto from scratch. I like to experiment with different pestos, including a hazelnut pesto, but this time I did a traditional basil pesto. If you wish, you could add caramelized scallops to this dish, but I kept it vegetarian this time, and mixed in some goat cheese, which adds a light and creamy texture to the pesto and is much healthier than heavy cream.

Sasha's Sweet Pea Pesto
Bunch of fresh basil, stems removed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 oz fresh vermont goat cheese, crumbled
fresh pasta (I bought fresh fettuccine rather than the boxed kind for this recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of ShopRite little gem sweet peas

First prepare the pesto in a food processor by pureeing the olive oil with the basil and pine nuts until smooth. Set aside and cook the pasta and warm up the sweet peas in a pot. Mix in the sweet peas and goat cheese with the pasta, and mix the pesto to coat. That's it - this is a nice and easy dish which is perfect for wintertime and is simple, easy and heathy, too!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Amasea's Kitchen in Sun Valley: Weird but delicious BBQ sauce

Sorry I don't have my own pictures for this one; it was seat-of-the-pants -- but so delicious, I just had to share!

I've been going through the old ingredients in my pantry, seeking things I haven't used in a while to clear out. The new year and all...

I knew I had some dried tamarind pods, but while seeking those (which I was able to revive and clean the pod casings off of by dipping them in hot water -- any suggestions on what to do with them?), I found some rolled guava paste from Trader Joe's.
Which, not incidentally, is probably my favorite chain store ever, but I live no closer than 350 miles from one, which depresses me. Another hit against Idaho, which this year is slightly redeeming itself by having remarkable skiing and increasingly impressive restaurants in Sun Valley. Come visit!

The guava paste was pretty dried out -- I was a little scared to look at the expiration date, so I didn't, but they *were* individually wrapped. I put four of the little rolls (about half an inch by 1.5 inches each) in a small bowl and topped them with boiling water to attempt a rehydration.
They sat in that for several hours as I finished work, then went in a tiny Cuisinart blender with about half a cup of orange juice. It took a lot of chopping and grinding to get the guava rolls to achieve a smooth texture, and more to get the same texture out of the large chipotle pepper (canned in adobo) that I added after realizing the mixture was just too sweet. I also added a few grinds of salt and pepper and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar somewhere in there for umami.

In a large stainless steel skillet, I heated olive oil and a dash of salt on medium high until a drop of water sizzled, then tossed in some boneless chicken breasts (because of their large size, I cut one into three pieces and the other into two pieces lengthwise). I seared them on both sides, then poured on the guava sauce, reduced the heat to medium, and cooked until the chicken was done.
Then I poured in about 3/4 cup chardonnay to deglaze the pan, and let it boil down for oh, three minutes or so before plating atop the chicken. Thinking back, a light red wine might have been a richer choice, but I liked the clean flavor the white gave the sauce.

Meanwhile, I cooked quinoa in our *amazing* wedding-gift rice cooker. Which I believe is the first time I've cooked quinoa in my adult life -- but it worked out remarkably well, despite smelling odd during the first half of the cooking time. With the Costco-sized bag of dried quinoa I just opened, this IS happening again.

In a small saucepan, I melted 1/2 tablespoon of butter and two large pressed cloves of garlic. I added about a cup of organic canned corn, a little salt and pepper, and some fresh thyme from the plant the husband and I were given by the B&B where we spent our short honeymoon, which has survived on the windowsill despite minus temps outside.
Then after a few minutes, a few tablespoons of half and half. I'd have used cream, but this was a spur-of-the-moment dish, and I had to go with what was in the fridge.
The corn mix went on top of the quinoa...

...and the result was -- DELICIOUS.
The barbecue sauce was hot, sweet, umami-esque, perhaps the best non-tomato-based BBQ sauce I've ever had. The corn mix on the quinoa an excellent creamy foil.
I think the only thing that would have made it better would have been a spicy greens salad on the side for a fresh, crispy bite, or perhaps some pickled radishes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Coconut-Lemongrass Sole with Pineapple-Mint Salsa

A healthy fish recipe to start the new year. I made this recipe using sole, but you could use any whitefish, such as halibut or Chilean Sea bass. This is a simple, tropical inspired fish dish, which was perfect for a busy week night. My favorite way to cook sole is a sole meuniere, which involves a thick butter and white wine sauce. But this is almost as good and much healthier. This was my first meal that I made after returning from vacation in Mexico where the food was nothing special (we stayed at an all-inclusive place, so there was a lot of it, but nothing to brag about). Today was the first day back at work for the new year after a long vacation over the holidays, always a tough day to come back from vacation!

Sasha's Coconut Lemongrass Sole with Pineapple-Mint Salsa

2 filets of sole (or halibut, flounder or chilean sea bass)
1 1/4 cups of light coconut milk
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 T lime juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T diced lemongrass
1 cup diced pineapple
2 T diced mint
1 diced green pepper
1 tsp lime juice (for the salsa)

Combine the coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and diced lemongrass to make the marinade. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the fish and allow to marinate for 4 hours.

Combine the diced pineapple, mint, lime juice and diced pepper for the salsa. Set aside. Cook the fish - you can add a little but of butter if you like (I didn't this time though).  I cooked the fish at 300, for about 30 minutes. Top with the pineapple-mint salsa.
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