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Posts tagged ‘fresh mint’

IOWA SUMMER CHERRY STRUDELS…

I have been on a little cherry kick lately, it seems I am not alone with all the markets filled with ripe cherries in the produce aisle. I love cherries for so many reasons, they invoke a childlike giddiness when they make their way into my shopping basket. They epitomise summer for me since they really only come out to play during the hot summer days we wait all winter to return. When I bought these cherries at the market I remembered summers past when visiting family back in Iowa. My mother-in-law has several cherry trees on her property and every year she harvests them sitting outside in the evening shade, pitting away into big white buckets. She makes enough to freeze throughout the year, just in time for her cherry stained hands to return to normal…She pits hundreds of  these cherries and shares them with friends and family but she also makes this amazing but not-so-healthy cherry bars. I loved them so much she mailed us a care package of them one year. We still laugh today about how gruesome the package looked when we opened it (imagine, flaky flesh-colored dough with bloody looking cherries oozing out of the sides).

So I had an idea last night to make these delicious treats at home just a little healthier than the original, this recipe is an homage to her infamous cherry bars.

IOWA CHERRY STRUDEL

SUMMER CHERRY & BASIL STRUDEL WITH SUGAR GLAZE

For the filling:

2 pounds of cherries, pitted and cut in half

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cracked fresh pepper

5 leaves of fresh mint

5 leaves of fresh basil

1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the crust:

1 package of puff pastry

All purpose flour for dusting

For the egg wash:

1 farm egg

1 tsp water

For the glaze:

3 tbsp powdered sugar

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

In a large sauce pot add the cherries, honey, agave, basil, mint, salt, pepper, cardamom, & vanilla. Cook on medium high heat until the cherries are cooked but still firm. Remove them from the heat. Drain the cherries from the remaining liquid reserving the liquid and separating the cherries. Place the liquid back in the sauce pan and reduce on medium high heat until thick and syrupy.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a small bowl mix the egg and water together for the egg wash, set aside. Next, roll out the thawed puff pastry on a well floured surface. Cut out rectangles in the dough to the desired size. Once the cherries have cooled add them back to the cooled cherry syrup and give it a mix to coat the cherries once again. Place a small amount of filling in the center of each dough piece. Spread out and leave a 3/4 inch border around the edge. Brush egg wash around the edge and place another rectangle of dough with edges brushed on top. Press the edges together with a fork to crimp and seal shut. (I find it easiest to assemble them on already lined cookie sheets to avoid tearing) Then brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 30-45 minutes until the pastry has puffed and the tops are a deep golden brown.

While the strudel is baking mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract together until smooth and not clumpy.

Once the strudel is finished cooking remove from the oven and allow them to fully cool on the lined cookie sheets. Once cooled plate them on a serving platter or individual plate and drizzle the sugar glaze over top. Enjoy!

Note: you can make these the day or morning before if you want to serve them to guests. Just keep them in a loosely closed container on the counter at room temperature.

DINNER PARTY CANAPE WITH FRENCH ROSE…

I was off to a friends rooftop for a fabulous dinner party last night and was pondering what to make…I knew it had to be something healthy, colorful and easy…

The idea for this dish originated from a more practical weeknight dinner I made earlier in the week with some left over veggies in the fridge.  It consisted of  pea purée with roasted asparagus and garlic with a sunny side up farm egg. So I thought why not spruce it up for a ladies dinner party? Now I love peas with their refreshing little spheres of green tenderness and let’s be frank, it’s amazingly hot outside so I don’t really want hot food so this dish had to be chilled. I roasted the garlic and bread crostini while boiling the eggs and peas. Then I  whirled them up in the blender to make the pea purée. Then I assembled them at my girlfriends place in just a few minutes!  It would be easy to make parts of this when you have time throughout the week but if not it takes about an hour to do it all at once…  Bon Appetite!

CHIC LITTLE QUAIL EGGS ON TOASTS WITH PEA PUREE & PROSCIUTTO

12 quail eggs, cooked, peeled and halved

1 cup vinegar

3 thinnish slices of Pumpernickel or Rye bread cut into squares

6 slices of prosciutto

PEA PUREE

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 head purple garlic, roasted

1/4-3/4 cup vegetable stock

5-8 leaves of fresh mint

5-8 leaves of fresh basil

1 tbsp good quality unsalted butter

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A few cracks of fresh pepper

A pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt or Kosher Salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating cut the top off of the garlic and place it on a sheet of foil. Drizzle a little olive oil over top and gently gather the foil around it. Place it in the oven directly on the rack. Roast it for 45 minutes to one hour.

While the garlic is roasting get a pot of fresh water boiling. Add the peas to it and check them for doneness periodically. Once done, drain, and cool in an ice bath. If using frozen peas, thaw in a bowl then drain.

Cut the slices of bread and remove crust. cut them into 1″ x 1″ squares and place on baking sheet. Drizzle a little olive oil over top and season with salt and pepper. Bake alongside the garlic until just toasted. Remove and cool.

Now, rinse the eggs in warm water and then place them in a sauce pot. Add equal parts water and vinegar (usually 1 cup each depending on your pan) just so the eggs are fully submerged. Bring it to a boil and turn off the burner, let them sit for 5 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath then peel carefully. This part is the most time-consuming, so just be patient…

Now for the purée, in a blender add the peas, garlic (just squeeze the garlic to release the roasted paste) veggie stock, butter, olive oil, mint, basil, and season with salt and pepper then blend until nice and smooth.

Assembling the dish: on a plate or platter, place one crostini, then a piece of prosciutto, a small scoop of the purée (I used a piping bag fitted with a metal tip but you could also use a plastic zip bag with the tip cut off), then a quail egg half on top. A pinch of salt and pepper over top and your done!!!

Provençal Rosé

 

PERFECT SUMMER WINES…

What do the French drink while lunching beachside in the south of France? Rosé! Why you ask?  Because it is refreshing, usually dry (not sweet) and compliments the lighter cuisine of summer. Things like grilled octopus and fish, crisp vegetables with briny olives. Of course white wines are delicious but rosé really hits the mark on a hot summer day.

Here’s what I recommend for this recipe…2010 Domaine de la Fouquette Cuvée Rosée d’Aurore, Provence France for around $15! I bought mine at Le Du’s Wines here in Manhattan.

Although, any french rosé will do in my opinion, if you can’t find the recommended wine, look for something from Provence rather than Loire Valley or even something from the US since the Provençal Rosé has a nice balance of fruit and acid without being sweet or overly acidic. If you really want to fancy it up, try a sparkling rosé, I tend to like Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine since it’s more affordable than french champagne. I promise any of these will be the perfect complement to hot summer days spent with friends!