Zucchini Galette with Lemon Thyme and Goat Cheese

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Our youngest son’s birthday in mid July was the occasion for a family dinner a couple of weeks ago.  This Zucchini dish was part of a wonderful meal, and it turned out pretty enough to be a table centerpiece!  I used a prepared pie crust instead of making the pastry, so it was very simple to put together, and fun for my granddaughters to help assemble. The combination of goat cheese, lemon zest,  and freshly picked lemon thyme was delicious.

Zucchini Galette with Lemon Thyme and Goat Cheese

1 pepared refrigerated pie crust (not frozen)

5 Medium zucchini squash, ends trimmed, and sliced very thin

2 Tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces goat cheese, softened

1 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ten inch tart pan

Set the pie crust out on counter for 15 minutes, or per package instructions.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put zucchini rounds into a colander and sprinkle with 2 teaspoon sea salt.  Set the colander over a bowl and toss the zucchini before allowing to drain for about 30 minutes.  Then squeeze the zucchini gently to remove more liquid. Put into a bowl and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper.  In a smaller bowl, mix softened goat cheese with lemon thyme and grated lemon zest.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.

While the zucchini is draining, place pie crust round on floured cloth and roll out to slightly larger, then place in tart pan.

When you are ready to assemble the galette, spread the goat cheese mixture over the pie crust to about 1/2 inch from the edge of crust.  Starting in the center, arrange zucchini rounds in snug, overlapping concentric circles all the way to the edge of the crust. Drizzle with remaining Tablespoon of olive oil.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

The Egg and I

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Aren’t these lovely brown eggs a study in simple beauty?  Few things among our kitchen staples are such perfect food for any meal,  both as stand-alone dishes and as ingredients. I love to make omelets, souffles, meringues, and custards, and of course use them in baking.  But the ways I most often use the farm fresh eggs we buy from All We Need Farms in Needville, Texas,are really very simple and require mostly minutes to prepare. Some of the photographs here have appeared along with a recipe previously in Kitchen Keepers.

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The little red enameled cast iron skillet is perfect for a one dish meal:  sautéed spinach, onions, and red peppers with an egg poached on top.
014Quiche has so many possibilities!  Use bits of leftover vegetables, chop up garden fresh peppers and tomatoes, add your choice of ham, bacon, even shrimp!  Choose from your favorite cheeses, and season with fresh herbs or spices such as nutmeg and cayenne.  But the central ingredient is always the eggs!

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Marbled Tea Eggs were fun to make, and a special treat, but the most time-consuming of egg preparations featured here.

We like Eggs Benedict, which also has any number of variations.  Again, although ingredients such as the English Muffins, Canadian Bacon, and Hollandaise used may be switched out and exchanged, the poached eggs on top remain!

Joe has always liked his eggs broken into a buttered cast iron skillet, cooked briefly until the white begins to turn before I reduce the heat to low, sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan and cover it, then cook just until the yolks begin to set.  I am not sure what method this is called in egg cookery, but the finished product is a cross between poached and sunny side up!  Our family also likes eggs scrambled and cooked on very low heat in a little butter.  I like to stir these scrambled eggs with chopsticks, and remove from heat when they are still a tad underdone.  The residual heat finishes the cooking and the eggs are soft and silky.  Tobasco Sauce is always on the table when we have eggs!

What is your favorite way to use eggs?   Are there special condiments you always serve with them?

Heirloom Tomato Tart

005I love my kitchen garden, even at this time of year when many plants are reaching the end of the season.  The weeks during which I can harvest a few fresh tomatoes everyday are second only to the mostly year round abundance of my herb garden.  I have fallen in love with Heirloom tomatoes – their odd shapes, deep rich colors, and variety of mouth watering tastes.  My favorites are Cherokee Purple, Arkansas Traveler and Old German – which are the varieties I used in this delicious savory tart.  Last year Joe gave me a wonderful cookbook titled Harvest to Heat, cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans, compiled by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. The book jacket features a photo of this pie that made me want to make it  My version is much simpler, but the Creme Fraiche Galette with Heirloom Tomatoes would certainly have some extra layers of flavor and flair!  I found that recipe at several online links.  Here is the original, by Naomi Pomeroy:

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/creme-fraiche-galette-heirloom-tomatoes.aspx

Here is my quick-to-fix version!

  • 1 prepared pie crust (I used Pillsbury refrigerated crust, rolled – found in the refrigerated section of the market, not in the freezer, and NOT in a foil pan)
  • 3-4 tomatoes, a combination of sliced heirloom tomatoes and other tomatoes, sliced.  If your tomatoes are small, you will need more.
  • 1/3 lb.  manchego cheese, grated
  • coarse ground sea salt

Set refrigerated pie crust roll out for at least 15 minutes to soften. (There will be 2 in the package, use only one).

Put the tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Lay the tomatoes on several sheets of paper towel to drain so they will dry out a bit.

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Heat oven to 425°F.  Dust a pastry sheet or tea towel with flour, and unroll the pie crust, pressing into a 12-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Slide a rimless baking sheet under the dough. Leaving a  2 to 3-inch border, scatter the cheese on top of the dough, then arrange the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes, making pleats as you fold and leaving the center of the tart open.

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Bake the tart until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with mint or basil if desired.  Wonderful served with fresh greens and vinaigrette.

Blueberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam

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Red, White, and Blueberry!   Happy Fourth of July!

As promised, the jam I made last week is here for you to see.  The recipe could easily be titled 3B Jam!  Although most of my small batch preserving goes into the refrigerator for safe keeping, I acutally put these jars into a traditional hot water bath for 10 minutes, sealing them nicely for storage on my pantry shelf.  A number of ways to set up water bath canning make it easy for anyone to do.  If you have a stock pot with a circular rack that fits the bottom and a fitted lid, that will work.  There are canning sets available from multiple sources, for prices that range from $ to $$$.  Let me give you the short version!  You can go online and order a large blue granite (enameled) pot with handled rack which handles all sizes of jars) to be picked up onsite at Walmart for $19.99.  Or, if you have a stockpot already, go to Sur le Tables and buy only the rack for $11.99.  I liked this option because 1)I don’t need another big pot to store – 2) this rack has 2 sides:  one holds 7 8 or 16 oz. canning jars, flip it and the other side will hold 4 quart jars.  This is perfect for most of the smaller amounts that I usually have when I make jam or jelly.

Recipe adapted from one found at www.coconutandlime.com

Blueberry, Balsamic and Black Pepper Jam

8-10 cups fresh blueberries

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 box Certo liquid pectin, both packets

1 tablespoon black pepper

 

Equipment:

7-8 8 ounce Mason jars, or other glass canning jars.  Avoid using recycled food jars.

Lids and Rings to fit jar size you are using.  Always buy new lids if you are going to seal them in a water bath for shelf storage.

large stockpot for water bath

separate pot for cooking berries

large bowl for mashing berries

potato masher

long-handled wooden spoon

ladle

wide mouth funnel for filling jars

Wide tongs for lifting jars out of water bath. (these can also be bought where other canning supplies are sold)

Pour the berries into a bowl and mash with a potato masher. A blender or food processor will overdo the crushing, so just muster up the elbow grease for this job. It is almost as good therapy as kneading bread!  Measure it out. There should be about 6 cups of mashed berries. Add sugar and blueberries to a large pot.  It is a good idea to have a pot big enough for berries to only fill about 1/3 full, as ingredients will tend to boil over in smaller pot.

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If you are using a water bath, fill the large stockpot to a level that would be 1 or 2 inches above jars when placed on rack. Start heating to a boil.  This takes a long time.

Prep jars/lids for canning. I like to put all into the dishwasher and run a sanitize cycle, then place the jars upright while still hot on a towel. Lids should be put into a bowl covered with very hot water.

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Stirring occasionally with a long-handled wooden spoon, bring the sugar and blueberries to a boil. Boil for about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the pectin. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Fill the jars, wiping off lids and threads. Place lids on top and screw on rings. When stock pot water is boiling, lower the jars to rack and process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars carefully, setting them upright on a towel very gently. Leave overnight, during which time you may hear the popping of lids as they seal.  In the morning, press down on the center of each lid. If the lid pops back up, it did not seal, and that jar should be refrigerated for storage.  Tighten screw rings again, wipe off any sticky on the jars, and label if you wish.

Yield: about 7 8-oz jars

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Note: A good source of canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. There is also good information on the information sheets packed inside Certo boxes.