Meet my friend, Christina Peters, photographer, and experience adventure through her eyes and lens. Christina’s new website, tastyfstops.com, chronicles her adventures through food, farms, travel and more. She began her new adventure in my spring garden and through her lens and my recipes we’ll bring you through one (or more) harvests of my potager (vegetable) garden. Sign up for Christina’s newsletter and follow us through spring and summer into fall and winter. Enjoy.
It’s berry season in the garden and my blackberries and boysenberries are off to an early start. This is one of Christina’s beautiful, succulent shots and here’s a tasty little recipe to get your summer started right! Blackberry Crumb Bars
And speaking of summer, check out the new cooking classes for June, we still have a few seats for this Thursday also. Two summery classes in June, A Summer Picnic Party and an Adult 4th of July menu. We’ll be hosting one more class in July (on the 9th) then I am off for another knee surgery and won’t see you back until the end of summer! So grab a spot while you can.
1 1⁄4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
2 – 3 tablespoons ice water
1⁄4 cup finely diced ham
2 -3 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1⁄2 cup shredded cheese, such as Chedderella
4 large eggs
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Add flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times to incorporate all the ingredients.
Add the butter and process until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is pea size.
Place the mixture into a wide bowl and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together. Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough, not flaky. Once the dough comes together in a ball, divide it into two pieces, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400° while the dough is chilling.
Dough can be wrapped well at this point and frozen for up to three months. Let the dough defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Roll one chilled disk out on a floured counter or rolling mat, lifting and moving the dough every few rolls to help prevent sticking. Add only enough flour to the counter to keep the dough from sticking.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the tart pan.
Place your pan on top of the dough to make sure it is the correct size, it should be slightly larger than the pan, then roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll over your pan. Gently lift and lay the dough to fit the pan, never pull the dough to stretch it.
Lightly press the dough into the pan, roll your rolling pin over the top edge of the tart or pie pan and remove excess pastry. Prick the dough well with a fork.
Cut a piece of foil a little larger than the tart pan, butter the shiny side and place butter side down onto the dough. Press so the foil lays against the dough snugly, add another piece of foil if it doesn’t cover the entire crust.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes, remove beans and foil, bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before filling. (Leave oven on).
Boil potatoes until knife tender (when a knife can slip into the potato effortlessly with a little resistance). Drain and let cool until you’re able to handle them. Slice into disks or chop into a medium dice.
Heat a medium sauté pan, add oil until it covers the bottom of the pan, add potatoes and season with a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Sauté potatoes until lightly browned, add ham and cook for about 2 minutes or until browned. Add potato mixture to the bottom of the cooled crust. Add cheese on top of the potato mixture.
Whisk together the eggs and cream, add a little seasoning of salt and pepper, pour over potato and cheese mixture, bake for 30 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.
Let cool before serving.
How to Make Mashed Potatoes!
1 medium organic* russet potato person
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 -2 tablespoons butter, REAL BUTTER, unsalted
1/2 cup milk (cream if you want to be decadent, or mix the two)
Sea Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sour cream, optional
1 teaspoon chives, optional
1 tablespoon grated cheese, optional
Wash potatoes and then cut into large chunks, place into a large saucepan and cover with cool water. Add a tablespoon of Kosher salt, bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Heat the butter with the milk (I use the microwave). If you use the microwave wait to heat until the potatoes are cooked. Drain the potatoes and peel the skin off with tongs. For creamy soft mashed potatoes slip through a ricer into the still hot saucepan that you cooked them in (without any water!) If you don’t have a ricer just put the chunks back into the pan, place on the stove over low heat for a minute or two. This helps to dry them a little further so they absorb the butter and milk more evenly.
Add enough butter and milk (or cream) to the potatoes and lightly mashed with a potato masher, they should come together easily. Don’t overwork the potatoes or they can turn gummy. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and add any optional ingredients, serve.
If you’re making potatoes for a crowd they can be made about 1 hour ahead of time and kept warm on low in a preheated slow cooker! (I don’t remember where I learned that trick but thank you to whoever it was that shared it)
*Organic potatoes, all kinds of pesticides and sprays are used on conventional potatoes to keep bugs from eating them while they grow. Then to harvest them and finally to keep them from sprouting in the store. Choose organic for your health.
How To Make Gravy
There are two methods to making a smooth and easy gravy. It’s much easier if you prepare or purchase a good turkey or chicken stock a few days ahead of time. Below you’ll find a recipe for home-made chicken/turkey stock if you prefer to make your own. Make it ahead of time, refrigerate for three days or freeze for up to three months. This will also make it easier to remove any fat that has congealed on the top.
The thickening agent in an easy gravy is flour, you could use cornstarch but if you cook it too long the cornstarch will start to break down. The two methods are Beurre Manie or Roux. Both can be made ahead of time and both can be refrigerated for weeks or frozen in to ‘logs’ and then you can cut off any amount you may need for your dish.
Both methods require equal amounts of fat and flour, usually butter. Use approximately 1 tablespoon of either mixture per cup of liquid/pan drippings. Any pan drippings should be added to the stock before adding the thickener. If you’d like to defat the pan drippings, pour off liquid and put into the freezer until it begins to harden, about 10 minutes, scrape the fat off the top of the drippings and add the liquid to any stock you are using. Bring to a boil and add thickener as described.
So on to the recipes!
Beurre Manie (Kneaded Butter)
In this case the thickener is added to the hot or boiling stock.
½ cup butter, unsalted and room temperature
½ cup flour
Place butter into a small bowl and mash flour into the butter with the back of a spoon until completely incorporated. Bring your stock to a boil and add Beurre Manie while whisking until thickened.
Also equal parts butter and flour but the stock or pan drippings are added to the hot melted roux.
Per cup of stock/pan drippings:
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
1 – 2 tablespoons flour
Add butter to a sauté pan and when melted, whisk in flour at all once, keep whisking until thickened and the flour has a chance to cook a little, maybe 1 minute. Add hot liquid while whisking into the roux.
Neither of these methods will result in any clumping as the flour has already bonded with the fat and will melt smoothly into your sauce.
Here’s a good basic ‘Enhanced Chicken Stock’ recipe: