The Holidays

And so, the holiday season has come and gone. I always look forward to this time of year. Forget about gifts, Santa Claus, and even it’s religious significance. Christmas is my excuse to go all out; watch silly movies, decorate everything with bulbs, lights, and evergreen, burn candles scented of pine and “frosted cranberry”, eat fantastic food (lots of it), smother my family and friends… and not bat an eyelash, it’s all acceptable for this short span of time. This year, Christmas seemed to have arrived abruptly at the front door, and left just as quickly without much sentiment.

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But the food! Dinner always leaves a lasting impression. Christmas Eve brought cabbage dishes, beet soup, pierogi, various fishes (pickled, fried, and baked), and the traditional vegetable salad. Christmas day was a three course buffet of epic portions. Food coma inducing, for sure. I was responsible for a few things, here and there, but I would like to share a most delicious recipe. Best suited for summer, when zucchini is abundant and fresh as can be, this tart is savory, creamy, and incredibly flavorful. This was actually my first foray into gluten free cooking, and let me say, I was not disappointed at all. This crust, using brown rice, millet, and quinoa flour, is the tastiest crust I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. And look at all those healthy ingredients, they let the mind justify the butter and cheese indulgence. This recipe is from La Tartine Gourmande. I never followed the blog, but the cookbook is so beautiful, I couldn’t resist – even if I had a very narrow knowledge of what cuisine it feature.

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I did make some variations to the recipe, follow whichever you think sounds best.

  • Instead of marjoram, I used dill.
  • I added the Swiss cheese, shredded Emmentaler, to the ricotta mixture, and just layered the zucchini nicely.
  • Had to use millet flour instead of buckwheat flour.
  • Used lemon juice (from 1/2 of a lemon) instead of lime zest

Crust:

90 g brown (or white) rice flour
50 g buckwheat flour (used millet here instead)
40 g quinoa flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds (optional, I left these out)
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg
3 tablespoons cold water

From the book:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle blade, combine the flours, xantham gum, sea salt, and poppy seeds (if using). Add butter and beat on medium speed nutil crumbles form. Add the egg and continue to beat until incorporated. Gradually add the water while beating until the dough detaches from the bowl and forms a ball… Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour  before using. If it’s in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, take out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before using.

Filling (a bit of an adaptation):
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram (substituted for dill)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Finely grated zest of 1/2 organic lime (used the juice of half a lemon)
Sea salt and pepper
1 small green zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow zucchini, thinly sliced
3 ozs swiss type cheese (shredded)
1 tablespoon honey
Olive oil

Roll dough and line a buttered tart pan, poke holes with a fork a few times along the bottom. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Use some kind of pie weight, I placed the bottom of a smaller springform pan and that work just fine, remove the weight halfway through bake time. Combine ricotta, herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and shredded cheese. Fill crust, doesn’t necessarily have to cool, and layer zucchini slices, alternating colors. Glaze with a bit of a honey and olive oil mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes until zucchini is tender and the swiss cheese has melted in the mixture. You may have to cover the crust edges to prevent from burning. Remove and let set (~10 minutes) before serving warm.

It’s exciting to be to be identified as a cook, spice sets and serving dishes were on my list of gifts received! I promise to put those spices to good use, they actually went into a carrot cake I made for Christmas day. Wishing all the best in 2013,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

p.s. Les Miserables, in my humble opinion, is a great dramatic movie. There are scenes that lag a bit, and my attention was lost, but there were others that had me laughing, crying, and mesmerized. Hats off to the cast for their INCREDIBLE acting and relatively enjoyable singing.

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p.p.s. If you have any affinity for Spain, food, travel shows, cooking shows, Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, or Gwyneth Paltrow, you must watch Spain… on the Road Again. I remember it first airing on PBS and it was my father and I’s favorite thing to watch. I received the the whole series on DVD for Christmas this year and I have so gratefully been reminded of what an amazing show it is. It’s not pretentious or even too indulgent, they visit cheese, olive oil, and wine bodegas, cook wholesome simple food on open fire grills at spur of the moment occasions. It’s such a pleasure to watch, rent the DVD’s right away, you will not be disappointed.

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One thought on “The Holidays

  1. It sounds so delicious and homely. All I read is not only about just food but nutritious food. And it reads so yummi…

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