versatile swiss chard becomes a tart

I’ve found swiss chard to be one of the most forgiving greens to grow. Having said this, kale is also very tolerant. For me, the challenge with kale is that it does not have the ‘softness’ that swiss chard has thus is not so easily substituted for spinach…swiss chard on the other hand, is.  Swiss chard is versatile, easy to grow, nutritious and abundant this time of year…

swiss chard ready to cut

Granted, kale grows well into the cooler months and can easily be substituted for spinach or any dark leafy green, though there is something about swiss chard (at least for me) that I just love…perhaps it’s the red and green contrast or simply its abundance all spring, summer and fall…you can count on swiss chard to be there when spinach is not. I like kale  but I love swiss chard…

swiss chard

I plant swiss chard in the early spring and enjoy it all summer and into the late fall…

baby swiss chard

During the hot days of summer I rely on it to become my ‘spinach.’ Spinach bolts when the weather turns hot – swiss chard does not…one row will give nutritious greens for months.

I simply cut the larger, outer leaves, and more grows back! Plant seeds, water, nurture, cut, grow, cut, grow, cut…grow…

Enjoy it in recipes which call for spinach or swiss chard. Simply cut or tear the leaves away from the thick stem, chop and then steam, saute, bake or add to soups.

swiss chard piled on board

My personal favorite is a swiss chard and ricotta tart. I use two different recipes. The one below is an open faced tart. Both require basically the same ingredients; the difference – one is open faced and one is not…

This recipe is the simplest of the two as it only requires a baking sheet and one puff pastry sheet…I have yet to make my own puff pastry, though I so want to…but, until then, a store bought one (without the high fructose corn syrup) will suffice…

So buy yourself a packet of puff pasty and get going!

This recipe also freezes well…plan ahead, bake ahead…dinner or a delicious appetizer is served…

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Tart

Print this!

Ingredients;

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry. One sheet thawed. Save remaining sheet for another project…

1 large egg beaten with one teaspoon water (for egg wash)

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

15 ounces ricotta cheese (one small container)

2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin, if you have it)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh, if you have it)

12 ounces fresh swiss chard (frozen works well too – be sure to thaw and squeeze dry) – spinach can be substituted or a combination of the two.

What to do;

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unfold one pastry sheet, pinching seams together, if necessary…and roll out to cover baking sheet. Fold over edges, just slightly, to create an edge. Brush with egg wash (if desired).

2. Prick bottom, all over with fork. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan over the bottom; place tart on lower rack in preheated oven, for 5-8 minutes, or until cheese lightly browns. Let cool a few minutes.

ricotta + pastry

3 .While baking, combine combine ricotta and next five ingredients.

ricotta ingredients

4. Chop and saute swiss chard, in a large skillet, over medium heat. Cook in batches if necessary. Drain excess liquid.

sautee chard

5. Spoon about 2/3 ricotta mixture onto the baked pastry shell and then top with swiss chard. Dollop remaining ricotta mixture…

toppings on pastry

6. Finish with parmesan.

7. Top with fresh basil.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set, in 350 degree oven.

pastry baked

9. Cut and serve.

enjoy!

life last week…

Last week was my week to prepare for an upcoming art show in which we exhibited…hence, my absence here…

Michael (my partner) has been busy for the past few months designing and building new pieces to showcase. Below, the back of one club chair and the root is a table base – both of which sold (yeah!),

back of club + table base while I have been busy with all the other things involved with owning one’s own art based business, Designs Adrift…and planning for an off site show. Below, our booth…

right side show space 2013

The exhibition took place on Mt. Desert Island.

A very beautiful and picturesque area of Maine…to say the least…

Somes sound is absolutely incredible and Acadia National Park is not too be missed…

The tiny cottage in which we stayed was situated perfectly within Northeast Harbor.

A ten minute walk and we would be in town. And the 20 minute commute to the show grounds afforded us a luxurious drive past grand estates and then into the Somes Sound…a magical fiord…

The narrow, winding two lane road, where fog and mist intermix with brilliant azure skies and green covered mountains (East Coast mountains) on either side of it, holding boats of all types… reminded me of being on South Island, in New Zealand…

It was an incredibly beautiful commute, and one we fully appreciated…particularly after all the hours we had spent preparing for the show and all the hours we knew were ahead…

Collecting the wood. Designing and building each piece. Deciding what should be showcased and where. Laying out the space. Pricing. Wrapping each piece for travel. Loading the U-haul trailer and remembering to bring everything we would need (shame I didn’t take any packing/moving photos)…

And then there was the food.

Lunches were kept simple with salads

bulger + red pepper salad

(garden veggies abound at the moment),

garden veggies

breakfasts were oatmeal with yogurt and fresh blueberries (in season here now), homemade raspberry muffins

wild raspberries

raspberry muffins

and on our last morning we savored a delicious quiche.

Dinners were one pot meals – chili, mac + cheese (cheese sauce below)

chili + cornbread

mac + cheese sauce

and a side of cornbread, black bean and sweet potato tacos complete with guacomole and on our first night, haddock chowder and blueberry pie for dessert; compliments of my cousin who lives in Northeast Harbor…

she is the reason we were able to stay in this posh town, for four days in July, over a weekend…Cheryl (my cousin) has a friend who does not use her home on the weekends…hence, our incredibly affordable, beautiful and convenient accommodation…thank you Cheryl and Margaret!

Back to the food.

Everything could be made and was made days in advance (except for the oatmeal) and then frozen. Voila. Meals were served with the least amount of effort and clean-up. Love that. Granted it’s a lot of work up front, but the pay off was worth it. Plus, they were all dishes I’ve made a zillion times before, so no checking in with recipes – just prep and cook…

Appetizers were enjoyed and prepared fresh.

Olives, goat cheese, guacamole, chips, salsa, hummus and sliced tomatoes topped with fresh basil leaves and freshly sliced mozzarella, to name a few…

Doesn’t sound like we’re ‘skimping’ now does it?

Budget doesn’t have to mean scarcity.

For me, it means to live within your means.

So why not do it as well as you can…(:

enjoy.

the perfect pizza

Yeast free, thin and crispy pizza dough. Yum.

It takes little to no time to make this dough and it requires the most basic of ingredients (recipe below).

Flour, water, baking powder, salt and olive oil. That’s it. No waiting for the yeast to rise and then rise again…no.

Simply blend dry ingredients, make a well, add wet ingredients, mix then knead and roll.

What’s left to do? Bake and top with the delicacies of your choice.

Pizza made by your own two hands is not only budget friendly and versatile, it’s also forgiving and delicious. Top it with whatever you have on hand or go all out and intentionally plan your pizza party…

Perhaps your in the mood for a white pizza? Go for it. Maybe you want the richness of tomatoes, so you start with a red sauce base and build from there…can’t decide to go vegetarian or not – why not make one of each? (do pre-cook your meats). Veggie options are practically endless…here’s a few of my favorites – roasted red peppers, yellow peppers, sauteed zucchini, sauteed mushrooms,  smashed sweet potato (seriously good with goat cheese), roasted corn, artichokes, olives, spinach, swiss chard, kale, broccoli, (lightly sauté these greens prior to using), red onions, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted fennel, garlic.

One cheese or three cheese? Mozzarella is the classic cheese, but don’t forget about asiago, feta, goat, asiago or ricotta…or any combination thereof…

Lastly, finish with fresh herbs – basil, parsley, fennel or green onions – freshly cracked pepper (or spicy red pepper) and a pinch of salt.

Bake in oven at 425 F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese (or toppings) start (s) to melt and brown, just slightly.

Rest for 5 minutes, cut and serve.

Thin and crispy pizza crust

Print this recipe!

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups warm water + 1 tablespoon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix dry ingredients.

1.dry ingredients mixed

Make a well in the center.

Pour in wet ingredients.

2.wet into dry

Blend with fork or spoon until a ball begins to form.

3.dough mixed with fork

Incorporate as much as you can from the sides and bottom of bowl with your hands…

4.mix with hand

Form into ball.

5.blended into ball

Add 1/2 teaspoon +/- of water if needed…sometimes I need more, sometimes I need less…not sure why? Perhaps begin with less and add as needed…if it ends up too wet, add a bit more flour…

Knead dough in bowl 2-3 times.

Move to floured surface and work/knead dough until elastic. A few minutes should do…

Toss a bit more flour out on the counter.

6.crust on floured surface

Place dough in center. Press down to flatten.

7.press flat with palm of hand

Finish to size using a rolling pin.

8.finish with rolling pin

Lightly dust pizza stone/dish with corn meal.

Carefully lift rolled and flattened dough onto cornmeal dusted pizza stone.

9. crust on stonejpg

Drizzle edges with olive oil – smooth into dough with hands.

10 crust with oil

Bake 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden, in a preheated 375 F oven.

Remove from oven. Let rest 4-6 minutes.

Cover base with red sauce.

13

Add whatever toppings you choose.

11. ingredientsjpg

12 saute

14

Top with cheese – mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, feta, goat or ricotta

15

 Enjoy!
16
What’s your favorite pizza combination?

Do you have a fabulous recipe for pizza? Link up here…

Have a great weekend!

*fun fact – pizza stone picked up for free from my local transfer station

blueberry muffins

Looking for something to do on a rainy day?

Why don’t you bake muffins? Blueberry muffins!

They are super easy, yummy and perfect for breakfast or as a snack. They can be frozen for another day or enjoyed immediately, still warm, and slathered with butter… or given as gifts…what friend wouldn’t just love a dozen of freshly baked muffins?

So why don’t you get out your muffin tins and get going!

Blueberry Muffins

baked muffins:browned

Print this recipe From the Joy of Cooking – All About Breakfast & Brunch

makes 12 muffins

Assemble Ingredients;

assemble your ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum free)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs (don’t fret if you don’t have ‘large’ eggs – use what you have)

1 cup milk (or cream – you decide the richness)

2/3 cup cane sugar or light brown sugar (try not using white sugar)

4 tablespoons warm, melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1.5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Here’s what you need to do;

Grease or line with paper/silicone muffin cups for 12-cup muffin, standard muffin pan…

get your tins ready

Whisk together in a large bowl;

flour (2 cups)

baking powder (1 tablespoon)

salt (1/2 teaspoon salt)

Whisk together in a seperate bowl;

eggs (2 eggs)

milk (1 cup milk)

sugar (2/3 cup light brown/cane, white if necessary)

butter (4 tablespoons warm, melted butter)

vanilla (1 teaspoon)

wet:dry - sort of

Add ‘wet’ mixture to the ‘dry’ mixture, until just blended, moistened. Don’t over mix – batter should not be smooth…add the blueberries (1.5 cups), gently…

blueberry thief

add blueberries to batter

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Careful not to overfill or underfill – nearly to the top, without going to the top…Sprinkle brown/cane sugar on top.

in tins - topped with sugar sprinkle

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in a few muffins, comes out clean…

muffins cooling

Let cool 15 minutes on cooling rack before removing.

close-up scrumptiousness

Serve warm, with butter or as is…

muffin thief

enjoy the weekend!

(and the muffins!)

PS. The cooling rack and the cook book were picked up, for free, from my local transfer station…I just love that place!
(:

ripe red raspberry crisp

Yeah for sunshine, warmth and raspberries!

While fresh (and local) raspberries are still a few months away, I just couldn’t wait…it was warm, the sun was shining and we needed a sweet treat. What to do? Pull out some frozen raspberries and get mixing!

Simple. Delicious. Easy and versatile.

No raspberries? No problem! Just substitute fresh or frozen blueberries, peaches or apples and dessert is served in just 30 minutes!

Ripe Red Raspberry Crisp

Print this recipe!

A few cupfuls of fresh or frozen raspberries – enough to cover the bottom (and then some) of a pie plate or 9″ X 13″ baking pan.

1. frozen raspberries

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the bottom of whichever dish you choose to use. Pour raspberries to cover bottom…and then some…

2. raspberries + topping in bowls

Blend dry ingredients. Add egg and melted butter. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.

3.crumble on raspberries

Pat mixture over raspberries.

4. top view raspberry crisp

Bake 35-45 minutes. Or until browned on top.

5.ready to serve

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream or simply on its’ own…

6.scoopful of crisp

7.finn with his slice

8. focused9.yum

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

comfort food

Spring may be here, but warmer temperatures (and sunshine) are still fleeting…so what is one to do when wanting/needing warmth?

Cook.

Cook and eat.

Eat comfort food.

So that’s what I did. I prepared (and enjoyed) the fabulous fish pie from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, The Naked Chef Takes Off. 

Be sure to gather and prep all ingredients first; a few are cooked at the same time, in the same pot…best to be organized, but don’t let this intimidate you – it’s so worth the effort!

Fabulous Fish Pie

print this recipe 

Recipe taken from The Naked Chef Takes Off, Jamie Oliver

ingrediants

5 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares

2 large eggs

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, halved and finely chopped

approximately 1 1/3 cups heavy cream

2 good handfuls of grated sharp cheddar or parmesan cheese (I used cheddar, haven’t tried it with parmesan)

juice of 1 lemon

1 heaped teaspoon of English mustard

1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 lb. haddock, skin removed and sliced into strips

fresh nutmeg (optional)

lemon juice, spinach, parsley

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put the potatoes into salted boiling water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes. Carefully add the eggs to the pot and cook for a further 8 – 10 minutes, until hard boiled, by which time the potatoes should also be cooked. At the same time, steam the spinach in a colander above the pan. This will only take a minute. When the spinach is done, remove from the colander and gently squeeze out any excess moisture. Then drain the potatoes in the colander. Remove the eggs, cool under cold water, then peel and quarter them. Place to one side.

onion + carrot

In a separate pan slowly fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes,

pouring cream

then add the cream and bring just to a boil.

cheese, parsely, mustard

Remove from heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard and parsley.

ingredients with fish

Put the spinach, fish and eggs into an appropriately sized earthenware dish and mix together, pouring over the creamy vegetable sauce.

potatoes over fish mix

The cooked potatoes should be drained and mashed. Mash with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and even a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Spread on top of the fish. Don’t bother piping it to make it look pretty – it’s a homely hearty thing.

baked

Place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

serving

Serve with some nice greens or side salad.

enjoy

enjoy!

too many ripe bananas?

We had a bowlful of super ripe bananas and quite a few kids wanting a sweet treat – so what did we do? We baked some delicious banana bread! Who doesn’t like banana bread?

bananas in bowl

It’s easy to prepare, it can be frozen and enjoyed on another day or eaten right away.  It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Serve with freshly whipped cream, butter or simply on its’ own. Banana bread is also great for picnics, traveling (think muffins or thick slabs) or given as a gift – who wouldn’t love to receive a loaf of freshly baked banana bread?

Also, if your short on time, but have some overly ripe bananas – don’t throw them away, simply peel and freeze. Frozen ripe bananas work great for banana bread too!

Here’s what you’ll need;

4-5 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (or less if you’d prefer)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

dash of cinnamon and raw can sugar (if desired)

Here’s what to do;

Smash bananas.

Beat the egg.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

dry ingrediants

Using a wooden spoon mix melted butter and vanilla with bananas, then add to dry ingredients just until moistened.

wet + dry ingrediants

That’s it for mixing then,

pouring batter

pour into buttered loaf pan.

sugar sprinkle

and, if desired, sprinkle with raw can sugar and a dash of cinnamon for added texture, crunch and flavor. Serving a crowd? Double recipe (as we did) and use a sheet pan…

Bake at 350F for one hour.

slice and enjoy

Cool on rack. Slice and serve.

Enjoy.

PS. Apologies to those of you wanting to print without all the photos. While I’ve learned it’s possible, I’m still needing to learn how, so until then, my apologies…

make it yourself baking powder

What to do if you run out of baking soda? Make some – well, a good substitute that is. It’s one step and three three ingredients, actually 2 ingredients, because one isn’t that necessary…it takes seconds to make.

baking powder substitute

Here’s what you’ll need; 

1. Cream of tarter

2. Baking soda

3. The optional one – cornstarch

What else can you do with cream of tarter? Use it to make play dough or whip up a meringue…not that I’m whipping up meringues or anything of that sort any time to soon, but it is another way to utilize cream of tarter…I like to keep things in my pantry that can serve multiple purposes, cream of tarter is one of them.

Here’s the quantities

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1 teaspoon corn starch

Here’s what to do

Mix baking soda and cream of tarter – that’s it!

Adding the cornstarch will prevent any caking.*

*Side Note about the cornstarch – I stored a batch in airtight container for a week and didn’t add the cornstarch and it was just fine…see what works for you…

Recipe adapted from frugal living.

Enjoy.

cookie love

Sugar cookie cut-outs. Finn loves them. I think what he actually loves is the fact that they contain two of his favorite words – sugar and cookies…

We made these last Wednesday, the day before Valentine’s Day. I’d been wanting to bake cookies. It’s (usually) something fun to do together, especially during the long winter months, when it can be a bit too stormy or too cold to go outside…plus it’s a great way for Finn to learn about baking, measuring and numbers – math and science rolled into something you can eat – why not bake?

So, Valentines Day presented the perfect excuse to make a batch of these super delicious and buttery sugar cookies (aka Love Cookies). Who couldn’t use a little extra love every now and then?

The ingredients are common, inexpensive and minimal – sugar, butter, flour, plus a few ‘extras’ – what’s not to love?

Here’s what you’ll need;
(recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Baking Book)
Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour

Here’s what you’ll need to do;

1.sugar + butter combined

In a medium mixer bowl beat butter on medium to high speed for about a minute. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla.

2.add flour

Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer…I was able to mix nearly all flour with the mixer…

3.mix remaining

Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flower.

4.ball of dough

5.wrapped dough

Divide dough in half, cover and chill the dough for about 2-3 hours or until easy to handle.

6.flour in scooper

7.roll out dough

On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough at a time to about 1/8-inch thickness.

9.cutting out cookies

Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

10.cookies cut-out

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned.

11.cooling cookies

Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

12.cookies with icing

If you like your cookies with a bit of extra sweetness, then drizzle with a bit powdered sugar icing (recipe below) or dip into melted chocolate…not matter how you enjoy them – frosted or not – you will not be disappointed!

To make icing;

In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk*. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is easy to drizzle.

Want a touch of color in your icing, but not the chemicals? Try using the reduced juice from fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Beet juice works well too (not pickled) and doesn’t need to be reduced down. *If using juice for color, add 1/2 tablespoon milk to 1 cup sifted powder sugar, and 1/2 – 1 tablespoon juice – then more as needed…I chopped a few fresh strawberries

strawberries

and then added a few frozen raspberries in a sauce pan added a touch of water and cooked down on medium heat, continually adding water as necessary until fruit is ‘cooked’/mushy/very soft.

juice

Drain, reserving both fruit and juice. Using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula, press the fruit into the sides and bottom of sieve…Reserving all the delicious and vibrant liquid… Add a teaspoon at a time to powdered sugar and milk.

juice added

Drizzle over cooled cookies – let set – store once icing has dried.

12.cookies with icing

Eat them up. Give them away. Or do both.

13.eaten cookie

Enjoy.

oatmeal and raisin cookies

Who stole the cookie, from the cookie jar…?
1A.cookie thief

These cookies don’t stand a chance…they are buttery, crunchy and chewy – all at the same time.  If you need a cookie fix, don’t go out and buy a box – make some. This recipe is super simple, requires very little time and cost is minimal. Plus, it’s prepared in a skillet – what could be better?

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, New baking book;

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F., grease cookie sheets.

Gather your ingredients;

1.ingrediants

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/4 cups flour (I used white wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 well-beaten eggs

1/2 raisins or chopped coconut or chocolate chips (I made ours with only raisins – optional of course)

How to;

2.sugar + butter

First – melt butter. once all is nearly melted, add sugars – mix.

3.adding oats + flour

Second – add oats, flour, baking soda + powder, salt – mix4.oats mixed

Third – add eggs – mix

5.raisins added

Fourth – add raisins, coconut or chocolate chips – perhaps all 3…do you dare?

6.raisins mixed

Fifth – mix well

7.raw cookies on tray

Sixth – place a tablespoon and thensome, in hand and form ball (it tends to be a ‘loose’ mix), place 2-3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-12 minutes – depending on your oven – until lightly browned on bottom/edges.

8.cool on tray

Allow to set on baking sheet – roughly 3-6 minutes.

9.cool on rack

Cool completely on rack.

10. stored in jar

Store and enjoy.

Why buy boxed? Easy, inexpensive and real. It doesn’t get better…

Just for fun – the cookie jar, cookbook, baking trays, vintage spatula, and cooling rack were all picked up from my local dump. (: