Monday, August 29, 2016

CTBF’s Cherry Tomato Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese and A Week at Camp Grandma and Grandpas'

Beautiful fluorescent colors....Sterling Mining Museum
Really cool!
This past week, when I was supposed to be blogging about 'Cook the Book Fridays,' I was quite busy hosting my annual Camp Grandma and Grandpa adventure. On one of our very busy days, we enjoyed a visit to the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. My grandsons loved walking through the damp, dark, cold mine. They enjoyed checking out the wonders that laid beneath their feet..a geological mystery that my grandkids were quite interested in learning about. Sterling Mine is known for world-famous mineral deposits. With the help of fluorescent lighting, parts of the dark murky mine glowed in the blackness and lit up with bright rainbow colors. An excellent exploration of the minerals and rocks that make up our area.
Another day was spent going to one of their favorite burger restaurants at the mall, and then hitting the dollar store. While at the mall, my granddaughter and I did a little school shopping at one of her favorite places. She picked out some incredibly cute back to school sweaters and a pair of overalls.

The rest of the week was spent miniature golfing, checking out the local playgrounds and helping me in my garden. My granddaughter (who shares my love of baking) baked two batches of cookies. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Peanut-butter (which happens to be grandpas' favorite). She even made him an extra large one, that he totally enjoyed with his coffee.

Grandpa and the kids enjoying Sterling was a very hot day. Good thing it was only 56 degrees in the mine.
Baking Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies...they were really good!

So, here is the post I didn't get posted on time.

The recipe we selected for Cook The Book Fridays (CtBFs), was Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese from David Lebovitz's cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

I grew up on strained our house we call it Labneh. It was always in my grandmother's fridge while I was growing up. It was served at breakfast or as an afternoon snack with my grandmother's homemade pita. It is also a treat I usually have in my fridge. Making it is quite easy. Draining yogurt in a few layers of cheesecloth, over a larger bowl, usually overnight, to produce a thick yogurt cheese. I usually add a teaspoon of salt to a 32 oz. container of yogurt. David's recipe calls for adding herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Very delicious!!

I made this Crostini the beginning of last week and enjoyed it so much I roasted another batch of tomatoes to serve when my daughter and her husband came to pick up the kids, over the weekend. I am sure this delectable Crostini will be making an appearance at my table, all summer long.  A winner for sure!

A taste of summer!
Roasted tomatoes….a delicious indulgence to make for yourself with all those abundant garden tomatoes 
Draining the yogurt
Herbed cheese ready to spread….yum
A scrumptious treat…loved the freshness!
Josie’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies…she set up the photo. That’s my girl!

Cherry Tomato Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese
Recipe adapted from "My Paris Kitchen" by David Lebovitz

Herbed Fresh Goat Cheese:
2 cups whole-milk yogurt (Goats or Cows milk)
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, sage, and chives)
1 small clove garlic…minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Roasted cherry tomatoes:
1 ½ pounds small grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
Handful of fresh mixed herbs (I used rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, basil, and sage)
Sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

4 slices of bread (ciabatta, sourdough, country bread…I used a nice rustic Italian bread)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the bread
1 clove garlic

For the herbed goat cheese:
Line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth or muslin and set it over a bowl.
Scrape the yogurt into the lined strainer and refrigerate the yogurt for 24 hours.
Put the strained, thickened yogurt into a bowl and mix in the herbs, shallots, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the roasted tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, sliced garlic and herbs in a baking dish or pan that will hold them all in a snug single layer.
Season with salt and pepper, mix well and spread them out in a single layer.
Roast the tomatoes in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring once or perhaps twice during baking, until their juices are starting to concentrate and perhaps brown a bit.
Scrape the tomatoes and any juices into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
They can sit up to 8 hours, and improve the longer they sit.
When ready to serve, make the toasts.

Brush the bread with olive oil.
Place on a baking sheet in a preheated 350º F oven and toast for about 5 minutes, until light golden brown. (I used my toaster and did not brush with olive oil.)
Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, rub the slices generously with the garlic clove.
Let cool to room temperature.

To serve:
Thickly smear each piece of bread with the fresh herbed cheese.
Spoon the tomatoes and their juices onto the slices of bread.
Coarsely chop the herbs for the garnish, and scatter them over the top of each portion.

Friday, August 5, 2016

CtBF ~ Apricot Crumble Tart

Delectable CtBF ~ Apricot Crumble Tart

We are in the midst of summer here in New Jersey, and beautiful fresh fruits are abundant. My favorite time of the year. Yesterday, I made a lovely batch of Spicy Blackberry Jam. The blackberries freshly picked from my garden. My garden has been serving up some gorgeous berries this year, and plenty of them.  The farmer's markets in my area are full of spectacular fruit, and that worked out just perfect for me this week.

Perfect for a summer day!

Our Cook the Book Fridays group, has picked David Lebovitz' Apricot Crumble Tart. I have been looking forward to making this tart since I first saw it, months ago.  It did not disappoint!  Leave it to the French to celebrate the sublime tartness of this lovely fruit, with an incredible buttery almond crumb topping. This tart has very little sugar added to the apricots (only three tablespoons). The crust was easy to put together and then pressed into the springform pan. Mine was perfectly thick and cookie like and didn't crumble when plated. The apricots were also easy to prepare, take out the pits, cut them in quarters, and mix with sugar, cornstarch, and extracts. Be sure to save the pits for David's Almond Kernel ice cream, (which I wasn’t able to get done for this post).

Tea and Apricot Crumble Tart on the back deck
This tart is delightfully delicious, however, Bill is still watching his weight. I just couldn't leave this tempting treat sitting around as he grazed the kitchen for snacks. So yesterday, after my walk with neighbors, I invited them over for coffee, tea and Apricot Crumble Tart on my back deck. The weather was perfect, as was the company. And the tart was enjoyed by all!!

This post participates with Cook the Book Fridays. We are a virtual cooking group making our way through David Lebovitz's beautiful new cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen".  To see what the other bloggers thought of this tart, check out their links here.  This recipe has been shared on-line and is posted here. If you're interested in cooking along, we would love to have you. Pick up a copy of David's cookbook, and join the fun.

Beautiful season!
crust pressed into the springform pan
 Lined with foil and pie weights
Apricots mixed with sugar, cornstarch, and extracts
This is what's left of this mouthwatering tart...
Incredibly delicious

Apricot Crumble Tart ~ Tarte Crumble Aus Apricots
Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
Serves 8-10
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85g)
unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups ap flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( I used 1 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

2 pounds ripe, fresh apricots, pitted and quartered (I'm thinking blackberries, next time )
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1 1/2 tsps.)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I used 1/2 tsp.)


1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH, remove butter from the refrigerator 10 minutes before using it and to let it soften slightly in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed just until no visible lumps of butter remain. Add the egg yolks, flour and salt. Mix until the dough comes together. (You can also make the dough in a bowl using a spatula and a little moxie.) I used my food processor for the dough. It came out perfect.

2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Use the heel of your hand to press the dough over the bottom of the pan, and a little less than halfway up the sides. Try to get the bottom as even as possible, not because anyone will see it, but so it bakes evenly. Put the pan in freezer for 30 minutes

3. MAKE THE CRUMBLE TOPPING by pulsing the almonds, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are broken up into very small pieces. Add the butter and pulse the food processor. After a few moments, the mixture will look sandy. As you continue to pulse, pieces will just start clumping together. Stop pulsing at that point and chill the crumble topping. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can make the crumble topping by chopping the almonds finely and mixing the topping with a pastry blender or by hand.)

4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).

5. Line the springform pan with aluminum foil and a single layer of pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tart shell is browned.

6. After the tart shell comes out of the oven, make the filling. In a bowl, mix the fruit with the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Do not make the filling too far in advance because the fruit may become too juicy.

7. Transfer the fruit to the tart shell and even them out. Strew the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.

8. Bake the tart for 50 minutes, until the crumble topping, is nicely browned. (This timing was right on...I took mine out at 50 minutes and it was perfect)

9. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, then run a knife around the outside of the tart to separate it from pan, in case any juices ran over. Let rest for 30 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform and let the tart cool. The edges may look rather dark, but should taste fine, not burnt.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.