Archive for October, 2008

Published by Patianne on 26 Oct 2008

Lemon Love

On my recent trip to CA, land of perpetual citrus, I brought back a suitcase full of  organic lemons. I picked them the day I left  from a family member’s tree.  Lemons are a staple in the Art On The Menu pantry. Eating local aside, there are a few small concessions I have to make. One of them is lemons year round.

I call 10 pounds of fresh organic lemons Christmas in September. It was one citrus-y treat after another: lemon tartlets; lemon curd; fresh squeezed lemon juice in my freezer for future baking; preserved lemon slices; on and on! And oh- the art inspiration!

Rather than make my lemon bars as bars, I made them as tartlets. The pastry, which I normally press in, rolled out beautifully. I cut out 2″ rounds with my fluted cutter, blind baked, filled, garnished with some of the preserved lemon slices and ta da!.

The beauty of this method for lemon bars is it uses 2/3 less filling. This leaves more lemon juice for my endless lemon recipes! Of course you can eat twice as many because they are only 1 1/2 bites! And these tartlets inspired my cardboard lemon tartlet. The real one definitely tastes better!

Published by Patianne on 01 Oct 2008

Farewell To The Late Season Strawberry

The late season local strawberries are the sweetest. I’m not sure if this is because they actually are, or because I know they are the last and so I must wait until next summer for that true strawberry flavor. Because of this I always celebrate their departure by gilding the lily (or berry). I love to embellish these fleeting favorites and make Chocolate Truffle Strawberries. And at first bite you will be in love too, simply because  the crunch of good chocolate, the juicy sweetness of the strawberry flesh, and the ooze of the creamy ricotta filling with just a little crunch of almond is irresistible.

This is a berry most of us pick up by the hull, and bite. We love the immediacy of it:  the juice running down our chins and that incredible sweetness with just a hint of tang. When I am cutting so carefully, and watching just how far up I’m slicing as to not cut through the hull, it gives me a true appreciation of the delicacy and beauty of this berry.

I completely cut through the berry on the left to show the filling process. All those bits that I have scooped out- I use them in yogurt. I close up the berry halves, push through a toothpick to secure them, and dip. In the Art On The Menu kitchen, the last strawberries of the season are really something to look forward to!

I clipped this recipe from a local paper years ago, and have made many changes over the years. I went back to the online archives, but could not find a credit for this recipe. This is my version with many changes to the original.

Chocolate Truffle Strawberries

1/2 # good bittersweet chocolate, chopped for melting
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
12 large strawberries washed and patted dry
1 tablespoon finely chopped slivered almonds
3 Tablespoons ricotta
3 Tablespoons softened cream cheese
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
2 drops Fiori di Sicilia ( from King Arthur Flour) or any flavoring of choice. I like this flavoring because it is a highly aromatic blend of citrus and vanilla
toothpicks
Baking sheet lined with parchment

Cut each berry in half 3/4 of the way, vertically. Do not cut through the hull. Using the small end of a melon baller, cut a small cavity in one half of the berry. Set these berries aside.

In a small bowl, mix softened cream cheese and ricotta with a spoon until incorporated. Mix in nuts, powdered sugar and flavoring. The mix should be soft while still holding it’s shape.

Spoon a small amount into each berry cavity (1/2 tsp or less). Close berry together and secure with toothpick. Prepare them all, and set aside.

Over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter in double boiler ( I use a 1 quart on top to ensure depth of chocolate). Stir chocolate to test it’s smoothness and liquidity.

Hold strawberry by toothpick and dip into chocolate deep enough to cover 3/4 of each berry. Turn over and allow to set on prepared baking sheet.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.