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Deliciously Organic: July 2010

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fudgy Chocolate Tarts

Last week I got to visit my friend Karin for a few days in Texas. As soon as we arrived, the kids ran off to play and she and I got to spend many hours catching up. Karin is one of my dearest friends. She's kind, loyal, a wonderful mother and wife and always has fantastic advice (she will be a bit embarrassed that I just said those things. Don't be Karin. They're all true). She introduced me to the world of organics (so really, this blog wouldn't be if it wasn't for her) and she also tested every single recipe for my cookbook.

I love going to her house because I know I'm going to get a great nutritious meal. She also isn't afraid to cook for me . . . I always tell my friends they can cook a hot dog and I'll be happy. Really.

A few weeks ago Karin told me about a chocolate, raw, and gluten free tart that was "out of this world". She asked me if I could recreate it for her and after a little time in the kitchen I came up with a fabulous version of what she explained to me. I'm so giddy that the recipe only uses five ingredients and is gluten free, raw, vegan, and organic. Honestly, you can't even tell it's raw. The filling is so incredibly fudgy and thick that it could suffice as a dessert all on its own.  Now, when the temperatures are in the triple digits you can have a perfect ending to your day and you don't even have to turn the oven on.

Fudgy Chocolate Tart
These tarts are so rich that they can easily be split between two people. I also tested these tarts using a mini-muffin tin and used 1 tablespoon of crust for each tartelette and ended up with 18 tartelettes. I also suggest using a coconut oil (such as expeller pressed) that doesn't contain a strong coconut flavor. I found that these tarts taste better the longer they sit. I think it's best to make them the day before serving. They keep in the refrigerator for one week.
Makes 4-3" tarts or 18 small tartelettes

1 1/2 cups almond meal (finely ground)
6 tablespoons dark cocoa (such as green and blacks)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups dark cocoa
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pour all of crust ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended. Divide crust into four servings and press crust in the bottom and up sides of tartelette pans. Clean food processor bowl and blade.

Place all filling ingredients into the bowl of the now clean food processor. Process until ingredients are smooth. Divide filling among tartelettes and spoon over crust. (There will be 2-3 tablespoons of filling left over) Place tartelettes in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve cold.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Three Cheese Mini Macs

The girls and I are making our way back to California. We've stopped for a couple of days to visit family in the mountains of New Mexico. The air is cool, dry, and smells of sweet pine. The deer are running wild and the hummingbirds and butterflies are abundant.

I'll be back to my usual bi-weekly posts next week. I have many new recipes to share...I can't wait! Until then, here's a wonderful recipe for mini macaroni and cheese.

Three Cheese Mini Macs
Serves 8
Adapted from Dallas Morning News

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 425°F and adjust rack to middle position. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook macaroni until al dente. Drain. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin (or a mini 24 count muffin tin) and sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan cheese in each cup.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk for 2 minutes to cook flour. Slowly add milk while whisking to prevent clumping. Bring milk to a boil and then take off of the heat. Stir in cheddar and fontina cheese until cheese is melted. Whisk in egg yolk. Pour macaroni into cheese mixture and stir until macaroni is evenly coated with sauce. Spoon large tablespoons of the macaroni into the muffin cups.

Bake mini macs for 8-10 minutes until golden. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberries and Balsamic Syrup

A few weeks ago I told you of my love for learning about writing and this week I've learned a few things about photography. When I got to my parents' house, I pulled up my blog on their computer and was mortified to see so many pictures with a horrible yellow overcast. When I edited them on my computer at home the white balance looked fine. I quickly called my brother into the room and asked him if there is such a thing as color-correcting a monitor. He said yes and told me of a software program that corrects monitor color problems. Wow, I had no idea. He told me the color balance of a computer monitor can change over time, requiring periodic correction.

Later, I saw a 3' x 5' wood floor sample sitting in a room and thought it would be fun to take pictures with my food on top (a bit of a Tartelette look). I grabbed my Dad's huge camera, got everything ready, but the camera wouldn't shoot (probably because I didn't know how to use it). Soon the few fleeting minutes of opportunity quickly passed, the ice cream melted, and I ran inside to grab my camera. What I thought would be a fun and easy photo shoot turned into shots of half-melted ice cream with a camera I don't know how to use. Why I ever thought taking pictures outside in 100 degree heat was a good idea is beyond me.

In the end, I gave my kids each a melted sundae and enjoyed one of my own. I guess every day can't go exactly as planned. It's worthwhile if we learn something, though.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberries and Balsamic Syrup
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking
Serves 4

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream (recipe below)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Pour vinegar in a medium non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Scoop a serving of ice cream in each of the 4 serving glasses. Top ice cream with strawberries, drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of balsamic syrup and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

3 large pastured egg yolks 
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon arrowroot
3 cups heavy cream, preferably raw, not ultra-pasteurized
pinch Celtic sea salt

Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Freeze in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Double Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Sandwich

Oh my, it's hot here in Texas. We arrived amidst the rain on Friday evening and were greeted by my parents and a kitchen full of food. Mom made pan-fried cajun corn, black-eyed peas, salad, jalapeno cornbread, and a heavenly summer fruit cobbler overflowing with cherries, peaches, blackberries, blueberries and cherries.

Saturday the family divided up the duties to get ready for my Mom's 60th birthday party. Dad picked up the Cuatro Leches Cake from La Duni, Pete and my brother picked up the gifts, and the girls and I shopped for the food. The girls made place cards and decorated the table, everyone helped prepare dinner, and we all munched on "fish and chips" (a thick potato chip topped with smoked salmon, sour cream and lemon zest). The menu featured wonderful light summer fare: grilled shrimp with lime butter, orzo salad with roasted vegetables, arugula salad with shaved parmesan, garlic parmesan rolls. We washed it all down with a few gallons of my grandma's sweet tea. 

My brother, tossing the salad.

I love our family celebratory meals. Loads of laughter over a good meal.  It really doesn't get any better than that.

The dessert was my all-time favorite cake (and I'm not really a cake-kind-of-girl). There is a restuarant here in Dallas called La Duni that makes a Cuatro Leches Cake that's out of this world. A sugary-sweet cake drenched in a flavorful, rich cream, enveloped in meringue and drizzled with Arequipe caramel sauce. If you're ever in the Dallas area, you must take some time out for a piece of their cake (and a mojito, they make the best in town).

The family has left now, Pete flew back to California to work, so it's just the kids and I here in Dallas with my parents for the week. I offered to make dinner the other night and tried out these double stuffed portabella mushroom sandwiches. As I cooked, my dad walked in the kitchen and asked what I was making. After I told him, he cocked his head to the side, raised his eyebrows and said, "hmm." (This means he's not thrilled) I served the sandwiches with spiced and roasted potato chips and a salad. My dad raved. I proved him wrong. I love it when that happens.

Double Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Sandwich
The sandwiches are huge so plan on splitting one between two people. I also tried it without the bun and it was just as delicious.

Makes 3 sandwiches. Serves 6
Adapted slightly from Rachel Ray Magazine

6 portabella mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 large whole wheat or sourdough buns
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 teaspoons mayonnaise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup blue cheese

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 10 minutes. Place the mushrooms, onions, and buns on a large baking sheet. Brush coconut oil on mushrooms and onions (to prevent them from sticking) and spread 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise on each bun. Season mushrooms and onion generously with salt and pepper. Grill mushrooms stem side down and onion for 5 minutes with grill lid down. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms and onion. Divide blue cheese evenly among three mushrooms. Close lid and grill for one minute until cheese has mostly melted. Remove mushrooms and onion from grill and lightly toast the buns on the grill. 

To assemble: Place 3 portabellas without cheese on top of the three with cheese. Place mushroom stack on the bottom half of a toasted bun, top with onion slice and then place the remaining bun half on top. Repeat until all of the sandwiches are assembled. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chocolate Almond Mousse with Boozy Cherries

Our vacation continues.  We've enjoyed the hospitality of friends and family who've hosted us in their homes this week, blessing us with meals and fellowship and warm beds.  Our time in Florida is over and we're now enjoying time in Texas with family.  Family gatherings always necessitate creative desserts, so I'd like to offer this simple creation.

My daughters and I picked the cherries at a farm, then I cooked them in some preserves and frambroise and drizzled it over a quick chocolate mousse. The cherries keep for several weeks and are wonderful over ice cream, whipped cream, or eaten by the spoonful.

Chocolate Almond Mousse with Boozy Cherries
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 4

8 ounces fresh cherries, pitted
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup frambroise

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Cherries: Place cherries, preserves and frambroise in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let mixture boil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until juices thicken. Remove from heat and chill until cold. (Can be made up to two weeks ahead)

Mousse: Pour 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan. Place pan over medium heat and bring cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Let mixture sit for 2 minutes and then whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Beat the remaining 1 cup cream and almond extract in the bowl of a standing mixer until soft peaks form. Fold 1/2 the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Repeat with remaining chocolate mixture until incorporated. Divide mousse into 4 bowls, cover, and chill until set, about 3 hours.

To serve: Remove mousse from refrigerator and spoon cherries with syrup over mousse. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blueberry and Cornmeal Scones

Our travels continue!  Last week was a blast. Pete and I finished up our time without the kids at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri. The beautiful lodge rooms provided scenic views of the wooded grounds and Table Rock Lake. Our time there featured a hike in the woods, some gorgeous sunsets, many hours rocking on the porch listening to the falls, and visits from the "cookie lady" who delivers fresh gingerbread cookies in the evenings.

The coffee house at Big Cedar

When we first saw the girls, they ran to us and gave us great big hugs. They had sunkissed skin and big smiles on their faces. They were anxious to describe their experiences and their stories delighted us. The camp counselors and staff displayed joy and character, including encouragement for the parents to raise children our children with wisdom and faith. We all said our goodbyes and drove on, two teary-eyed little girls in the back seat with full hearts ready to return next summer.   

We headed south on highway 65 through Arkansas and spotted a sign for "Serenity Farm" bakery on the side of the road. We pulled the car up to a quaint little bakery surrounded by flowers and vines. A cute dog greeted us on the front porch, followed by the scent of fresh baked goods. The bakery, to my surprise, is completely organic. I was thrilled to come across such a place! We ordered tuna melt sandwiches on sourdough, foccacia, almond croissant, an eclair, and two cups of coffee. The little pastry shop/cafe/grocer occupies an old house with creaky wooden floors and pale yellow-paneled walls. We sat in the dining room enjoying our little lunch, talking about lessons from camp and plans for the future. On our way out, we bought a few loaves or hearty sourdough to share with friends along the way.  

If you haven't yet discovered a treasure like Serenity Farms this summer, at least you can produce your own delicious, organic baked goods. Fresh ingredients, a little prep work, and some patience can enrich your day. A few weeks ago, I had an abundance of blueberries and whipped up a batch of these blueberry-cornmeal scones. They're subtly sweet, with a good crunch on the outside, and bright bursts of blueberry throughout. I hope they brighten your week.

Blueberry and Cornmeal Scones
These scones are best eaten within one hour of baking.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 8 scones

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 425°F and adjust rack to middle position.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add cream, honey, and blueberries and stir until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and quickly pat the dough into a 8-inch round. Cut the dough into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes until light brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

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