Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Bucatini with Ramps and Fiddlehead Ferns

I will share my much awaited recipe for beef sauerbraten with sweet and sour cabbage and pretzel dumplings tomorrow - just don't have time to write it up today, as we are headed off to spend the day with family. But, in the meantime, I wanted to share a fantastic spring pasta dish that uses the fabulous, hollow tubular bucatini, and one of my favorite spring vegetables - ramps, or wild leeks. Nothing could be better than that little bit of garden fresh onion green with your bucatini, trust me. My mom also has been talking up fiddlehead ferns, another delicious green vegetable that you can only get this time of year, so I threw those in as well. The first time I tried making them, I seasoned them badly and they looked like fried insects, but not this time - everything was sautéed in butter and olive oil, with some panko breadcrumbs for a delicious, garden fresh, spring dinner!

Sasha's Spring Garden Pasta with Ramps and Fiddlehead Ferns
1 12oz package of bucatini
1 large bunch of ramps, finely chopped, bulbs removed
4 oz fiddlehead ferns
3 T butter
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

First, sauté the ramps and fiddlehead ferns in the butter in a large saute pan. Saute the fiddlehead ferns first, for about 3-4 minutes, then add the ramps and saute another five minutes, until the ramps are well cooked and wilted and the fiddlehead ferns are soft. When adding the ramps, add a half teaspoon (less or more to taste) of red pepper flakes.

In the meantime, prepare the bucatini in a pot of salted boiling water. Toast the breadcrumbs on a frying/saute pan for a few minutes until lightly browned.  When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan with the butter/ramps/fiddlehead ferns. Add a tablespoon or two of the leftover pasta water (a trick I learned from watching the Food Network), and two to three tablespoons of olive oil, and sauté the pasta for a minute or so, until everything is evenly mixed. Mix in the toasted panko and serve.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Rhubarb Raspberry Crostata and Wolfgang Puck Soups Giveaway

After making my strawberry rhubarb pie a couple of times recently (has to be the BEST dessert of the Spring), I could't resist trying another rhubarb dessert recipe. I came across a recipe for a rhubarb raspberry crostata in Bon Appetit, and I couldn't resist. I love the idea of a crostata - its kind of a cross between a pizza and a pie, if that makes any sense. I made this recipe last week with a candle for my husband Brad's birthday, and it was a winner.

In addition, I wanted to share an exciting giveaway with my readers. I had the chance to try several of Wolfgang Puck's soups courtesy of the company and got the chance to do a giveaway of a whole goodie basket of his soups and stocks with my readers! The soups are organic, gluten free and delicious - perfect for those non-cooking nights that we all have. I tried hearty garden vegetable and tomato basil bisque and both were delicious. To enter the giveaway to win the gift basket below, leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address (so I can contact the winner) as well as fanning A Kitchen In Brooklyn on Facebook and/or as a blogger follower. My deadline is midnight on Monday May 30 to enter. A delicious giveaway for a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

So, enter the giveaway and have a happy spring with another delicious and fruity dessert. This raspberry rhubarb crostata is nice and tart (as one would expect), but oh so good. It's hard to just have one slice! I'm not done with those spring fruits yet either, as I have devised a new recipe for a strawberry balsamic pie that I am looking forward to trying soon.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata (adapted from this recipe)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (chilled and cubed)
1 large egg
1 T milk

1/4 cup cornstarch
4 cups of 1/2 inch thick slices of fresh rhubarb (from the Union Square Farmers' Market)
1 6oz container of fresh raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
sugar for dusting

To make the crust, I followed the recipe and did this in my mixer. It came out great, but really you can do this all by hand, with fabulous results as well, just like I explain in my stepwise pie crust recipe.  Don't worry if the butter is only half blended or so if you do it that way, as it will only make your crust crisper and more delicious. Below, though are the directions for doing so in a stand mixer.

Combine the flours, sugar and salt for the crust. Add butter and pulse for about two minutes. Whisk egg and milk in a separate bowl, and add to the mixer. Pulse until moist clumps form and bring dough into a ball with your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling for the crostata. Dissolve the cornstarch in three tablespoons of water and set aside. Combine the fruit and the sugar in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugars are dissolved and juices are released, about four minutes. The rhubarb will not yet be tender. Stir in the cornstarch and transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool for thirty minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and roll out the dough on a floured surface, rotating with each turn so it does not stick to the surface. Mound the filling in the center of the crust and leave a one and a half inch border. Gently fold in the edges of the dough over the filling. Brush the border with an egg glaze and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake until golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 40-45 minutes. Cut into wedges (like pizza!) to serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Goat Cheese Tomato & Onion Tart

I've been searching for the perfect goat cheese, tomato and onion tart for what seems like forever. I've tried a couple of things and haven't really been happy with any of them. My mom was visiting us recently, and she often comes bringing wonderful new cookbooks for me to try out. This time she brought Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics, which I was excited to try since I love Ina Garten. The first recipe I tried from this cookbook was my adaption of her tomato & goat cheese tarts on pages 92 and 93, which are made using a puff pastry crust. Why didn't I think of that as the base for the perfect tart - especially considering that I love puff pastry?

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
1 package (17.3 oz) puff pastry, defrosted (two sheets)
4 cups thinly sliced onions (about two large onions)
3 large cloves garlic, cut into slices (I love garlic so I used five)
3 T dry white wine
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
4 T freshly grated parmesan (I used a bit more, maybe 6, in total), plus 2 oz for top
8 oz goat cheese (I used about twice as much as the original recipe called for), crumbled
1 large tomato cut into 4 slices ( I made smaller tarts, so i used two tomatoes cut into eight slices)
3 T julienned basil leaves

Unfold the puff pastry sheets.  Ina suggests tracing and cutting the rectangles into circles, but I found it much easier to cut them into squares, for a total of eight. Place the pastry circles or squares in two sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425. Heat 3 T of olive oil in a skilled and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes until the onions are limp and there is little moisture remaining in the skilled. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and the white wine and thyme and cool for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. This gives the onions an absolutely fabulous flavor, and they are my favorite part of this recipe.

Score a /14 inch border around each pastry square or circle. Sprinkle a tablespoon of parmesan on each pastry round, staying inside the border. Divide the onion mixture evenly between each round, again staying inside the border. Crumble the goat cheese (I used 8 oz rather than 4) on each tart and place a slice of tomato in the center of each. Brush the tomato lightly with oil and season with basil, salt and pepper on top. Top with some freshly grated parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and nice and puffy. Serve warm or hot.

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