Rosemary-Scented Mascarpone Fig Tart

I love figs. Absolutely love them. It kills me not to have a fig tree and so I happily empty my pockets each week during fig season to pick up a few of these bizarre looking treasures. Its funny though–I hardly ever cook/bake much with figs because they never seem to be around very long. I’m trying to work on that this year in the name of self control, for you, my dear readers. The pains I suffer for you–I don’t gorge myself on figs like the fig glutton that I am. Today’s proof: a Rosemary-Scented Mascarpone Fig Tart.

This delicious dessert was inspired by the very artistic stylings of the Zen Man. I started from my base graham cracker crust recipe, but tweaked it to highlight rosemary rather than the cinnamon that I include… click to read more…

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Phyllo Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

As the summer’s bounty of great, fresh tomatoes slows down, you need to squeeze in as many great tomato recipes as you can before its back to canned tomatoes. This dish is a great summery dinner/starter when you have something akin to a pizza craving that’s a bit lighter and different from the norm. So rather than bothering with a full on pizza dough and tomato sauce, instead, give a Phyllo Tomato Goat Cheese Tart a try.

Instead of pizza dough, I used a base composed of several sheets of phyllo dough for something crisp and crunchy rather than doughy. Then, instead of a tomato sauce, I chose to enjoy those sweet, bite-sized campari tomatoes, sliced thin and layered all over the tart. Underneath it all is a mushroom duxelle, basil, thyme, and goat cheese crumbles, which all together, was light, fresh, and very tasty. The flavors blended quite nicely–you get the earthiness of the mushrooms, the sweet of… click to read more…

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Port & Melon Tapioca Pudding with Poached Figs

I had ideas for this dessert, but the end result is nothing like them. I started out aiming for a melon mousse, but it just wasn’t happening. Then, I started drooling over a honeydew sago soup, but it was too late for me to go in that direction. So I thought this was a very tasty nod to both ideas with a sexy looking twist. So what is it? A crenshaw melon (a cousin of the cantaloupe), pureed with a bit of Port and mint, transformed into a creamy, tapioca pudding, and topped off with a Port & spice poached fig.

First off, if you’ve never tried a crenshaw melon (this was my first time trying it), you could very easily substitute a cantaloupe and probably be none the wiser. I wanted to do something light and refreshing with this velvetty melon, and while my immediate response to just about any… click to read more…

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Veal Shoulder Steak with Port Fennel Mushroom Sauce

Like most braises, this isn’t quite hot-summer-day food, but if you can’t wait til winter (and given the seasons for one of the key ingredients, winter isn’t possible), this is a good dish for a gloomy, rainy day when you want something hearty to warm you up from the inside out. First, a fennel bulb (a fun vegetable to work with) is caramelized and braised with mushrooms to make a delicious side dish and leave a strongly flavored broth behind which, combined with a bit of Port, is used for braising a veal shoulder steak.

This is something of an ugly duckling. If you tell me that photo looks beautiful, I’d say you’re being polite (but I would also serve you dinner…see how much you get if you tell me what you really think of that photo! 😉 ). But that’s just fine as we all know… click to read more…

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Pan-Seared Salmon over Fennel Cauliflower Puree with Sweet Mediterranean Relish

In bumbling around for something to do with the cauliflower leftover in my fridge, I came across a fish recipe that really caught my eye. This solved two problems for me as I hadn’t a clue what I intended to do with the beautiful wild salmon filets waiting for me as well. So by total chance, today’s dish: a Pan-Seared Filet of Salmon atop a Fennel Cauliflower Puree, served with a Sweet Mediterranean Relish (say that three times fast).

This dish worked really well. The salmon was not the sad-colored, farm-rasied stuff, and the taste really reflected that. The cauliflower puree was a tasty side dish (also a great way for me to use up some fennel fronds I had leftover)–creamy, slightly sweet and anisey, and just full of that comforting caulifloweriness. The only change I would make next time: prepare more relish!

As simple as the… click to read more…

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Veal Chops with an Herbed Pan Sauce

This dish had everything going for it–its quick to prepare, delicious, and to seal the deal: its veal! Some times, the simplest approaches are the best kind, and for this, I decided to stick to one pan so as to have really flavorful meat and to use those juices for an even more flavorful pan sauce. So today: Veal Chops with an Herbed Pan Sauce.

While the dish has a somewhat rustic appearance, the taste is stunning. The veal had a great, buttery crust on it while the meat inside was melt-in-your-mouth tender with that delightful, harmoniously neutral veal flavor. The sauce was simple, but surprisingly rich and hearty, being earthy, herbaceous, and slightly sweet. This was also given body from the gelatin released in cooking the veal and enriched with butter to add that little touch that puts it over the top.

The only thing that didn’t live up to my expectations: the cheese I stuffed into the… click to read more…

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