Monday, July 28, 2014

Ham and Leek Tart

Ham and Leek Tart is one of my all time favorite savory tarts.  I love the golden flaky free form crust and the filling is divine!  It's a simple filling consisting of a good quality baked ham from the deli and fresh leeks sliced and sauteed in butter and white wine.  It's a lovely combination and it most certainly will impress!  

Ham and Leek Tart
Serves 4
For the filling...
1 pound fresh leeks, cleaned, trimmed and sliced 
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb baked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
For the pastry...
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, well chilled
6 tablespoons ice water approximately
For the glaze...
1 egg
2 tablespoons heavy cream

To make the filling, melt the butter in a medium sized skillet.  Add the sliced leeks and cook over medium heat stirring to coat leeks with butter.  Continue cooking until leeks begin to wilt.  Add the ham, wine and seasonings, cover the pan reduce the heat to low and cook the mixture until the leeks are very tender about half an hour.  Most of the liquid should be evaporated at this point, if not, remove cover and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
Beat the egg yolk and the cream together and add to the mixture, stirring well.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.

To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt together in a chilled bowl.  Working quickly, cut the butter into the flour leaving bits of flour coated butter.  Add only enough ice water to form a dough.  Gather dough into a ball and on a floured work table shape into an even rectangle.  Wrap and chill for 1/2 an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To assemble the tart, roll the pastry out on a floured work surface, to a slightly larger 12 inch square, then trimming to an even 12 inch square.  Cut into two pieces, one 12X7 inches, the other 12X5 inches.  Place the larger rectangle on a parchment lined baking pan.

Spread the cooled filling to within an inch of the boarder of the larger sheet. Cut a 1/2 inch square out of each corner of the rectangle.  
Make several 3 inch horizontal slashes 1 inch apart in the smaller rectangle and carefully place it over the filling.

Mix the egg and the heavy cream for the glaze.  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with the glaze and turn up the edges to overlap the top crust.  Press to seal.

Brush the top of the tart with the glaze and place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush again with the glaze and resume baking for another 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Tart may be served hot from the oven or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wasabi Crab Cakes with Mango Cucumber Salsa

  I first discovered these little cakes over at Elana's Pantry
she has a wonderful paleo and gluten free site well worth checking out.  Her recipe uses fresh salmon for her cakes but I was looking for a crab cake recipe with an Asian flavor.  This recipe definitely fit the bill.  I cut back on the wasabi for our taste and added a cool mango and cucumber salsa to serve along side.  This is a great summertime recipe that is quick and easy to prepare. 


Makes 6- 2 1/2 inch cakes

8 ounces fresh lump meat crab
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 large egg, slightly beat
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 tablespoons wasabi powder
coconut oil


Squeeze any water from the crabmeat and place crab in a medium bowl.  Add ginger, scallions, cilantro, egg, lime juice, almond meal and salt.  Mix together well.  In a small bowl, combine the wasabi powder with enough water to make a moist paste and add this to the crab mixture mixing well and being sure the wasabi is distributed throughout the mixture.


Form into patties (I use an ice cream scoop to divide mixture evenly into 6 portions).

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Saute cakes until golden brown, 4-5 minutes on each side.  Enjoy!

To make the Mango Cucumber Salsa...

1/2 cup cucumber,  peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon fresh chili pepper, minced, seeds and ribs removed, unless you like it hot!
1 tablespoon dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Monday, July 7, 2014

S'mores Tart

This tart is an elegant take on a fun outdoor dessert.  A buttery graham cracker crust filled with a luscious velvety chocolate truffle filling and topped with a deliciously sweet toasted marshmallow meringue.  An easy no bake  dessert the whole crowd will love!


For the crust...
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling...
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces and placed in a heat proof bowl
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

For the marshmallow meringue...
2 egg whites, room temperature 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup may be used
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

This can be made in a 9 inch round tart pan, I used a 13 1/2 X 4 inch rectangle tart pan.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add the melted butter and mix together until the crumbs are moistened and coming together.  Evenly press the crumbs over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, pressing firmly.  Chill the shell in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
Using a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds.  Stir very gently until chocolate melts completely and mixture is smooth.  

Remove the shell from the refrigerator.  Pour the chocolate through a fine strainer into the tart shell, spread evenly.  Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

When the chocolate is set, place the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs to a soft peak.

Place the remaining sugar in a medium saucepan and add the water and golden syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat giving a light stir with a wooden spoon to be sure the sugar has melted.  Continue to cook until the syrup reaches 240° or a soft ball stage.  Remove from the heat.

Very carefully stream the syrup into the bowl while the mixer is on low speed. Continue to mix until all the syrup in incorporated.  Add the vanilla and turn up the mixer to high and whip until thick and fluffy. 

You may pipe or swirl the meringue over the tart.  Brown the meringue using a brulee torch or the broiler of your oven, watching carefully, for a few minutes until browned and lightly toasted.  Enjoy!



Monday, June 30, 2014

Herbed Ricotta Cakes

 These delightful little crispy nuggets are made with ricotta, Parmesan, chopped fresh herbs and spinach.  They're rolled in breadcrumbs and drizzled with olive oil then baked to a crispy golden perfection.  These are great right out of the oven all crispy and hot or top with your favorite marinara sauce, then sprinkle with grated fontina or Parmesan cheese, Bellisimo!


Makes 20 2 1/2 inch cakes

1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese drained in a wire mesh for at least 2 hours.
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh bread crumbs, plus more for rolling
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
olive oil

your favorite marinara sauce, heated
Parmesan or fontina cheese grated 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle a little olive oil over pan.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.

In a large bowl, combine the drained ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped spinach, minced herbs, eggs,  salt and pepper.  Add 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs and mix together keeping it light.  If mixture is too wet, add up to a 1/2 cup more breadcrumbs, until mixture comes together in a semi moist but not dry mass.

I used a medium sized cookie scoop (2 tablespoons) to form each ball, then dropped them in a bowl with the extra bread crumbs, rolling around to fully coat each ball.  Pat them lightly between your hands forming them into neat little balls.   

Place the balls on the prepared sheet pan, no need to flatten the balls, they will spread into nice even cakes during baking.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over each ball and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, carefully flip the cakes over and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

These can be served dipped into your favorite marinara sauce or if you like, arrange hot cakes in a baking dish and top with hot marinara sauce then sprinkle Parmesan or fontina cheese over top and bake in a 375° oven to melt the cheese about 8 to 10 minutes.  Enjoy!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gluten Free Strawberry Cake

Strawberry season is finally here and I'm starting it off with a gluten free and a refined sugar free layer cake.  I have family members who have real issues with gluten and I know many out there do as well.  This recipe is made using a gluten free baking mix and the addition of ground almonds, making this a truly moist cake with an airy  texture.  The sweetening agent in this cake is coconut nectar, it comes from the sap of the coconut tree (much like maple syrup).  Coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw pure sweetener that retains it's nutritional value and it has a low glycemic index.  I used fresh cream and stabilized it with a little gelatine to frost this lovely cake with and as you can see, I got a little carried away with the strawberries...well after all, I've waited a whole year for strawberry season to get here!

The original recipe was found over at Blue Crab Martini
Makes 2 8" layers
For the Cake: 
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix
1 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
4 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup coconut nectar, agave nectar can be substituted
3 eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup diced strawberries 

For the frosting: 
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon plain gelatine 

extra strawberries for garnish
toasted sliced almonds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F
Grease 2- 8 inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper

Sift the flour mix, almond meal
baking powder and sea salt onto 
a piece of parchment paper, sift
again into a large bowl. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs 
and add the melted coconut oil, 
coconut nectar and vanilla  Whisk 
to combine.

Combine with a spatula, the wet 
ingredients into the dry ingredients 
in three additions, folding carefully 
until completely combined


Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and spread evenly with a spatula.  Sprinkle the diced strawberries over top of batter, dividing a 1/2 cup between each pan.  Press lightly into the batter with your fingers.  

Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until the middle of the cake is set and the cake pulls away from the side of the pan.  Remove from the oven and place pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a small ramekin, measure 1 tablespoon of cold water, sprinkle gelatine over the water and allow gelatine to absorb into the water.  Heat carefully in a microwave for 10 seconds or until gelatine dissolves into a liquid.  In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, add heavy cream and vanilla.  Whisk on medium speed until cream starts to thicken, then increase speed to high and continue whisking until medium peaks form.  Reduce speed to low and quickly add the liquid gelatine and whisk together until stiff peaks form. 

Fill and frost cake as desired.  I  Spread frosting on the bottom layer and added sliced strawberries than spread more frosting over the second layer and sandwiched the strawberries between the frosted layers.  I enrobed the entire cake with frosting and added rosettes to the edge and filled with strawberries.
I also applied toasted almonds to the base of the cake with a small offset spatula.  Enjoy! 

Consisting of the sap from the coconut tree (much like maple syrup), coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw, pure sweetener that retains all of the health benefits, while other sweeteners lose most of their nutritional value through heating and processing. - See more at:
Consisting of the sap from the coconut tree (much like maple syrup), coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw, pure sweetener that retains all of the health benefits, while other sweeteners lose most of their nutritional value through heating and processing. - See more at:
Consisting of the sap from the coconut tree (much like maple syrup), coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw, pure sweetener that retains all of the health benefits, while other sweeteners lose most of their nutritional value through heating and processing. - See more at:
Consisting of the sap from the coconut tree (much like maple syrup), coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw, pure sweetener that retains all of the health benefits, while other sweeteners lose most of their nutritional value through heating and processing. - See more at:
Consisting of the sap from the coconut tree (much like maple syrup), coconut nectar has the benefit of being a raw, pure sweetener that retains all of the health benefits, while other sweeteners lose most of their nutritional value through heating and processing. - See more at:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Italian Zucchini Boats

Italian Zucchini Boats are stuffed with onions and garlic and seasoned with fresh basil and parsley.  Feta and Parmesan cheese are added to the mix.  Sprinkled bread crumbs on top give it a nice crispy crust.
It's a little early in Maine for fresh zucchini but garden fresh zucchini is right around the corner.  I purchased my squash at the store and was fortunate to grab the last two on the shelf.  This is one of two ways I love zucchini the best.  The second would be chocolate zucchini bread but that recipe is for a later date.  This recipe calls for 4 medium sized zucchini but as earlier stated, two was all I could find.  I cut the recipe in half for our dinner which you can do easily, however I will tell you, these are great as leftovers also! 

Serves 4

4 medium zucchini about 7-8 inches long
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3/4 cup finely minced onion
3 cloves garlic minced
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs, finely ground 
salt and pepper to taste
extra bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cut off the stem and the blossom
ends of the zucchini and discard, then cut the zucchini lengthwise.  Scoop out the insides with a teaspoon, leaving a 1/2 inch boarder around the boat.  Place the boats in a shallow casserole dish. 
Chop the insides into little bits. 

Combine the chopped zucchini innards with the onion and the garlic and add a pinch of salt, add olive oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan on medium heat and saute until all liquid is absorbed and the onions are soft.  Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and add the feta, Parmesan and the herbs, mix well.  Add the bread crumbs and combine with the sauteed zucchini mixture.  

Season the zucchini boats with a few grindings of pepper and drizzle in a little olive oilFill the boats evenly with the zucchini mixture and use up all the filling.  Sprinkle each filled boat with a little grated Parmesan then sprinkle over the cheese a little fresh bread crumbs.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread crumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!