Updated: Apr 9, 2018
ASPARAGUS PHYLLO TART WITH SPINACH
1 lb Phyllo or shortcrust pastry
1 bunch spinach about 20 large leaves, washed and trimmed
1 bundle asparagus ends trimmed
2 large potatoes, sliced
1 3/4 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 eggs, lightly beaten reserve a spoonful for glazing pastry)
1 cup heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for poaching
To Serve; 4 oz Parmesan Cheese in the piece shaved with a vegetable peeler
A handful of chives
Roll out the pastry and line a 9 inch square pie pan or 14 x 14 inch rectangular pan. Pick the base and chill.
Plunge the spinach into a saucepan of boiling water, remove immediately with a slotted spoon, and refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Do the same with asparagus.
Put the potato slices in a saucepan, cover with olive oil, heat gently, then poach without browning until tender. Remove then strain and reserve the oil for another use.
To assemble the tart arrange a layer of cooked potato in the bottom of the pastry lined pan. Season lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add a layer of spinach and season again. Add the Gruyere and a second layer of potatoes and spinach. Seasoning each one.
Beat the eggs and cream in a pitcher or bowl, then pour over the potatoes and spinach. Arrange a line of cooked asparagus over the of the tart. Brush the pastry with the reserved egg.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30-335 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time cover the asparagus, but not the pastry edge with a sheet of foil or buttered parchment paper. When the center of the tart is just set, remove it from the oven and serve with shaving of Parmesan and chives.
ROSEWATER POACHED RHUBARB
10 oz rhubarb, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 cup sugar
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Rosewater
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 Vanilla Bean split lengthwise
1/2 Tablespoon superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy Cream
To cook the rhubarb, put the sugar,, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water into a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the chunks of rhubarb and stir again to coat. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Gently turn the rhubarb, cover the pan with a lid, turn off the heat. Stir in the rosewater and let cool.
Using a wooden spoon press the ricotta through a sieve and into a bow. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the ricotta and mix well. Dissolve the sugar in the cream and beat into the ricotta. Chill.
Spoon the rhubarb and rosewater juices into bowls or onto small serving plates and serve with the vanilla ricotta in spoonfuls or in a separate bowl.
STEAMED LETTUCE WRAPPED HALIBUT
2 pounds skinless halibut fillet
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1-2 large head Bibb lettuce
¼ cup very coarsely chopped fresh dill
6 (4-inch) sprigs fresh mint
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 shallots, finely chopped (about 5 tablespoons)
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Dill flowers or small dill sprigs
Cut the fillet into equal 2 inch square pieces. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Separate the outer leaves from the head of lettuce, without tearing them. Place a leaf cupped side up and center a piece of fish in the middle of the leaf (use two leaves if necessary). Sprinkle the fish with 1 tablespoon of the dill. Top with another 1 or 2 lettuce leaves, this time cupped side down, so that the fish is completely enclosed in lettuce. Wrap the remaining fillets in lettuce, sprinkle each one with dill, lemon slice and arrange them, without crowding, in a steamer rack or basket.
Bring several inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer. Drop in the mint sprigs, put the steamer rack or basket in place, cover and steam fish 8 minutes for each inch of thickness (e.g. if fish is 3/4 inch thick, steam 6 minutes).
Turn off the heat, uncover the steamer and let the fish rest for 1 to 2 minutes. To check for doneness, carefully lift the top leave from one of the packets and peek inside the fillet. If it is still translucent in the center, cover and steam for another 1 to 2 minutes.
While the fish is steaming, make the sauce. Melt 3 tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until it is softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and juice and bring the mixture to a simmer. Now, vigorously whisk in the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. The sauce should be slightly thickened and the butter emulsified. Stir in the dill and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Carefully transfer the fish packets to warm serving plates. Pour the sauce over and around the fish and garnish with the dill flowers.
ASPARAGUS, PEA AND MINT SALAD
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut into 3-inch pieces
2 cups shelled English peas or thawed frozen peas
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, halved crosswise on the diagonal
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 T. red wine vinegar
4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin
Pea shoots for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a large bowl filled with ice and water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until bright green and just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath. Add the English peas and sugar snap peas to the boiling water and cook until bright green and just crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice bath. Let the vegetables cool completely, then drain and pat dry.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the shallot and 1 Tbs. of the vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 Tbs. vinegar and the olive oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Add the asparagus, peas and snow peas to the bowl with the shallot. Add the mint, lemon zest, radishes and a pinch each of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss again. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the salad to a serving platter, garnish with pea shoots and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
SALMON WRAPPED IN PASTRY AND CUCUMBER SAUCE
Aunt Betty’s favorite dish for me and her favorite for guests, family and friends! And it will be our little secret that a portion of it was tucked away for a salmon salad lunch tomorrow.
16 ounces cooked salmon
1 cup tiny diced sweet onion
1 cup tiny diced celery hearts
½ cup chopped roasted peppers, drained and dried
¾ cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 tablespoons chopped dill
2 cups mayonnaise
In a large bowl mix together the salmon, onions, celery, parsley, dill, pimentos, peas and lemon zest. Mix together with the mayonaise. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Sauce: Mix together
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated packed cucumber, squeezed dry
Zest of one lemon
2 T. each chopped dill and mint
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lay one sheet of puff pastry on pan. With one sheet cut fish patterns and set aside.
Mound the salmon filling evenly across from one side to the other side about two inches from the bottom end. Wrap the pastry over the top. Pinch the bottom and top pastry, rolling to seal it closed. Lay the fish cutouts on top. Brush pastry with beaten egg and refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower oven to 350 and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and puffy. Remove and let rest 30 minutes before serving.
TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD
2 lbs. poached breast of chicken (or one rotisserie chicken), picked into one inch pieces
1 cup small diced sweet onion
1 cup small diced celery (use the tender small inside stalks and leaves)
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 T. chopped tarragon
1 cup mayonnaise, more to taste
3 T. Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of one lime
2 T. honey
Salt and pepper
Place the cooked chicken in a bowl. Add the diced celery, onions, tarragon and parsley. In another bowl mix the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lime zest and juice and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE
3 cups chopped rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces)
3 cups chopped strawberries
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch, plus one teaspon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one small orange
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon cream
Coarse sugar for garnish
Prepare the crust 24 hour in advance
Preheat oven to 400°F
Stir the rhubarb, strawberries, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, orange juice, and almond extract together in a large bowl. Set filling aside. On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9x2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Spoon the filling into the crust, leaving all of the excess liquid in the bowl. Dot the pieces of butter on top of the filling.
Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a circle that is 12 inches diameter. Cover the filling with the 12-inch pie dough circle. Cut slits in the top to form steam vents. Trim and crimp the edges. Sprinkle the top with a little coarse sugar.
Place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Keeping the pie in the oven, turn the temperature down to 350°F and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. If the edges are browning too quickly place some foil around the edges. Allow the pie to cool for 3 full hours at room temperature before serving. This time allows the filling to thicken up.
BEST PIE CRUST
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup ice water
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening.
Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter and shortening into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
Measure 1/2 cup of iced water in a cup.Add the cold water in, a little at a time. Do not add any more water than you need to. Transfer the pie dough to a floured work surface. The dough should come together easily and should not feel overly sticky. Using floured hands, fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. Form it into a ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into 1-inch thick discs using your hands.
Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. For best results refrigerate for 24 hours.
When rolling out the chilled pie dough discs to use in your pie, always use gentle force with your rolling pin. Start from the center of the disc and work your way out in all directions, turning the dough with your hands as you go.