Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh Tomato Salad filled with Vegetables (& Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette)

Fresh Tomato Salad filled with Vegetables
(with Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette)
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

4 whole, fresh tomatoes, top one-quarter of each tomato sliced off of each. Tomatoes hollowed out (melon ball tool, or sharp-tipped spoon works well) Leave fleshy wall of tomato intact.

Vegetables of your choice; such as:

Any of the following, finely diced or chopped (cooked or raw)
sweet red or green peppers
hot peppers/chilies, minced

Any of the tollowing:

Cooked black beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, etc. (may use canned, rinsed)
Cooked: rice, couscous, barley or other cooked grains, small pasta such as orzo, etc.

Optional: Fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped

In a bowl toss vegetables with a few tablespoons (or more) of the vinaigrette, scoop vegetable filling into hollowed out tomatoes.  Place tomatoes on tender lettuce leaves if desired and serve. Pass additional vinaigrette at the table. 

Julia Child's Basic Vinaigrette

1/2 Tbsp finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 Tbsp Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper


Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.

Yield: About 2/3 cup, serving 6 to 8


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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Recipe adapted from "How Easy is That?" by Ina Garten

6 servings

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups couscous (12 ounces)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup minced fresh parsley

In a large saucepan melt butter and add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.

Note:  I always add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to couscous, and a few shards of fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese.  In the photo above I also added some fresh, chopped basil to the parsley, as it was in season. ( You can any favorite fresh herb that you like.)

Recipe adapted from "How Easy is That?" by Ina Garten

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough (Easy, forgiving, flaky and tender, too)

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Yields enough dough for one-10" double-crust pie, or two- 10" single-crust pies, or 10 small pocket pies.

If you have trouble with traditional pastry dough I urge you to try this one, it's hard to mess up, and it can be made in the food processor in minutes. So simple-- the key is to just mix until blended, don't over process  the dough.

This recipe has been around for years; I believe it was originally meant for savory vegetable or meat pastries, but I like to use it for sweet things as well. It's that play of sweet filling and slightly salty crust that piques the flavors of both.  Most recently I used it for an Apple Crostada I made, it was delicious!


8 tablespoons butter (room temperature), unsalted if you wish - I use salted butter
4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream),  no substitutes
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Additional all-purpose flour for rolling out the dough
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt (I use the full 1/2 teaspoon)

Place the butter, cream cheese, and cream in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Add the flour and salt to the bowl, pulse until just combined and dough just comes together in a mass.
Flour a work surface generously, turn the dough out onto the flour and divide into two equal portions. Shape two round discs from each portion and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling out. Sometimes I make the dough a day ahead.
If the dough has chilled longer than an hour, take it from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling.  Process just until combined and the dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into 2 pieces. Flatten each into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out so it becomes easier to work with.
When ready to roll the dough, flour a work surface generously and completely flour a rolling pin. Working with one dough disk at a time, begin rolling from center of dough to outside edge, lift dough turn 1/4 turn making sure the work surface remains well floured so the dough doesn't stick. Continue rolling from center to edge of dough and turning dough 1/4 of a turn each time until dough is desired thickness.
Form pastry as desired for your chosen recipe. This dough looks especially pretty if brushed lightly with an egg wash, or heavy cream before baking. It adds a nice sheen to the finished product, but is an optional step.
If you try it, I hope you enjoy!
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Lemon Cream Pots and Lemon Wafers

Lemon Cream Pots and Lemon Wafers
As shared from the kitchen of Mari's Once Upon a Plate
4 servings

If you like lemon flavors, I think you'll like this one. Creamy and not too sweet, it's very easy to make.  I used Meyer lemons, but regular tart lemons work perfectly well.
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream, preferably not "ultra-pasturized")
½ cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
¼ cup lemon juice
whipped cream, to serve ~ slightly sweetened if you like

Lemon Wafers
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

Place cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon rind and juice and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Pour into four ¾ cup-capacity containers and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until set.

To make the wafers:
Preheat oven 355º (F)
Place flour, icing sugar, egg white, butter and rind in a bowl and mix well to combine. Place a teaspoonful of mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet (I used silicone baking liner), and spread to create a 5-inch strip (or any squiggly shapes you desire. Repeat with remaining mixture, leaving space for wafers to spread. Bake for 6–8 minutes or until light golden. Cool on baking sheet.

To serve:
Top pots with whipped cream and serve with wafers.  YUM and I hope you enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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