Tuesday, May 3, 2011

English Peas, Buckwheat Greens And A Strawberry Tart

It has been quite hectic around here.

During these past couple of weeks, I have had to park my book writing routine aside to focus on a couple of other projects I am super excited about. I wish I could share more, but we will have to wait. All I can say is that it involves a major magazine and I had a blast.

However, all of this has taken a bit of a toll on me.

When I woke up Sunday, I felt as though I had run a marathon. Sore and exhausted.

C. encouraged me to take some time for myself in the morning. He took the kids and I headed to the farmers' market. I find it relaxing to walk around, people watch and get inspired by the produce and talking to the farmers I have come to know this year.

Unfortunately, it was the last day of the market. Yes, when the rest of the country is just now gearing up for their growing season, ours is coming to an end. Well, not exactly. Things will still grow in the summer, but much slower and not so abundant. Most of the farmers I know take the summer off to travel and learn from other farmers.

As it was the last day, I indulged in everything I saw. The usual suspects such as eight ball zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, mulberries, farm eggs, kale, beets, english peas... But I also found buckwheat greens.

This was the first time I had even seen buckwheat greens. Beautiful greens with tiny little flowers.

As I started to read about them, I found out that they can be somewhat toxic when consumed in large amounts and that is why they are not recommended in juicing. However, a small amount can be beneficial.

Sunday night, I made a quick soup with English peas and buckwheat greens. The soup was tasty and mild. Spinach or even lettuce would work just as well.

When Monday came around, I was ready to start testing more recipes for the book.

I really feel so lucky to be able to do what I love. Time flies when I am working and enjoy every second of it.

But when time flies, lunch must also be quick. Crushed pea, cherry tomato and goat cheese tartines to go with leftover soup from the night before. I blanched some English peas in salted boiling water, then crushed them with a fork. Mixed with goat cheese, scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper on toasted gluten-free bread.

I was testing a new tart dough and with the leftovers, I made a quick almond and strawberry tartlet that Miren and I had for dessert. Took a couple of chairs outside and had an impromptu picnic in the back lawn.

Then back to work.

English Pea and Buckwheat Greens Soup

Serves 4

2 Tbs olive oil
1 leek, white part only diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
2 cups shelled peas
2 cups buckwheat greens or spinach
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 sprigs thyme leaves
3 cups chicken stock
Goat cheese, optional
Chopped scallions, optional
Olive oil

In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and the garlic and cook for 3 minutes until soft.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until soft.

Puree the soup. Serve with chopped scallions, goat cheese, drizzle of olive oil, and toasted bread.

Strawberry and Almond Tart

Makes 6 3-inch tartlets

Pie crust of your choice (mine was gluten free)
½ cup (110 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (110 g) natural cane sugar
1 egg
½ tsp almond extract
1 cup (110 g) almond flour
1 Tbs (10 g) tapioca starch
¼ tsp salt
2 cups sliced strawberries

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until light. Add the egg and almond extract and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix.

Roll out the pie dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut 6 4-inch disks and fill tart molds with them. Cut off excess dough.

Fill the tart molds with frangipane and arrange the sliced strawberries on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until crust golden.

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