Holiday Fruit Desserts: Pear Hazelnut Frangipane Galette




Gorgeously sumptuous in the seasonal colors, the pear hazelnut frangipane galette will appeal to the eye and tastebud alike. Almond frangipane is often used for pears in pastries, but I sometimes find it too sweet (preferring a savory edge without being overwhelmingly sweet). Cue in hazelnuts, which give that nuttiness flavor complementary to pears. The pears are not poached prior to being baked therefore they will be crisp, a nice textural contrast with the pillowy hazelnut frangipane. An alternative would be to poach them whole and cut them fan-like as they appear in this galette. The galette dough recipe is a reliable and nearly foolproof one that Dorie Greenspan uses in Baking Chez Moi. I have used it several times with success – the pastry is buttery and flaky like pie dough. The pear hazelnut frangipane galette can be served warm or at room temperature. If you feel really decadent, you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  ~ Eric


Galette Dough (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Makes 1 galette crust

1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces (frozen butter is good here)

1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle cubes of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour. The texture initially will be somewhat like coarse cornmeal, and additional pulsing will  produce a mixture that has small flake-size pieces and some larger pea-size pieces. Add a bit of ice water and pulse, add some more, pulse and add until no more water is left. Pulse longer and stop momentarily to scrap the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl. Now work in longer pulses, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor. In time, a dough that resembles feta cheese curds will result. Do not overpulse. but pulse enough that the wheel against the dough begins to slow down. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk and put it between two large pieces of parchment paper.  Roll the dough while it is cool into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Cut a circle out of the dough (I used the removable tart tin base when you construct the galette).  You don’t want an overly thin dough, and it’s preferable to have a thick dough with some heft especially where galettes are concerned.

Slide the rolled-out dough, still between the papers, onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Leave the dough on the counter for a few minutes until t’s flexible enough to lift and fold without cracking.


Hazelnut Frangipane

125 g softened unsalted butter

100g (1/2 cup) sugar

2 tsp plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

135 g (1 1/4 cups) hazelnut meal

To make the hazelnut meal, finely chop whole hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside.

Place the butter and 100 g sugar in a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the flour and whiz to combine. With the motor running, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the hazelnut meal and whiz until well combined.



3 pears unpeeled and de-cored ( I used Bosc pears and I left on the skin on).

Cut the pears in half through the stem end and remove the cores with a spoon (I used a teapsoon). Slice the pears thinly and vertically, with slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem so the they remain attached at the stem end.


To assemble:

1.) Preheat the oven and the baking sheet to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). The preheated baking sheet helps crisp up the bottom of the pastry and minimizes the risk of a soggy bottom.

2.) Spread the hazelnut frangipane evenly on the dough, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) around the edge.

2.) Fan out the pear slices on the top of the frangipane layer – you may find it easier to split the pear fans in half and spread them out.

3.) Fold the edge of the galette dough towards the center.

Bake the galette for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown and the frangipane turns a beige brown.

Note: The recipe makes leftover frangipane and dough for a mini-galette.

Edible Flowers

DSC_0587Early summer brings a myriad of floral delights – not to mention the beginning bounty of produce. We often use flowers for decorative reasons that we sometimes forget how some flowers are actually edible. Whenever I have access to such flowers, I always enjoy sprinkling them in salads and rice dishes since the jewel colors can animate sedate-looking dishes. Edible flowers should be harvested from unsprayed plants. Be sure to check prior to using them in salads and other dishes. Check for insects unless you want an unsuspecting source of protein!

  • Borage (Borago officinalis) – A cool refreshing shade of blue, borage surprises with its cucumber flavor.The hairy calyces are unpleasant to eat and should be removed gingerly from the flowers. I like the flowers for cocktails, especially those with gin or Pimms. People sometimes will freeze the flowers in ice cubes for color in cold beverages.
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – Bright orange or yellow, calendulas are the ‘spice’ of edible flowers. I prefer to separate and sprinkle the petals into green leafy salads – the orange against the bright greens of lettuces is an exciting jolt for the eyes.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – We get fixated on harvesting chives for its leaves that we overlook the flowers, which have the same strong onion flavor.
  • Marigolds (Tagetes sp.) – Tagetes lemmonii has a pronounced citrus fragrance that is noticeable from rubbing its leaves. However, the culinary species in Mexico and South America are Tagetes lucida and T. minuta. Called pericón, the former is used in medicinal tea by Mexicans.The latter, known as huacatay in Incan language, is used primarily in the South American potato dish ocopa. Some liken the flavor of Tagetes minuta to basil, tarragon, and mint with hints of citrus, and sometimes steep the leaves for medicinal tea.
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum sp.) – Nasturtiums, unrelated to watercress which uses the name for its genus, are the first edible flowers people think of. Their bright orange or yellow flowers have a distinctive peppery taste like the leaves.
  • Rocket or arugula (Eruca sativa) – White flowers are as edible as the leaves, having the same spicy taste.
  • Viola (Viola tricolor) – More for its color than its taste, viola flowers look delicate nested among the leafy greens. it is not to be confused with Viola odorata more popular in confectionery as sugared violets.

~ Eric

Summertime Recipes: Fresh Summer Berries and Peaches with Sabayon

Summer is a time of intense flavors. There’s nothing quite like the bursting flavor of corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, or berries, delivering  a rush of sweetness to your taste buds. Here, the classic flavors of corn, tomatoes, and basil are combined in a homemade sweet corn ravioli.  Squash blossoms, the beautiful blossoms of the male zucchini, are the perfect appetite teaser.  They are stuffed and fried and served as an appetizer. Their sweetness pairs wonderfully with the crispy and light-as-a-feather breading enveloping the cheesy stuffing. They’re a summer classic, best nibbled on with good friends in the kitchen with a glass of wine while you prepare the rest of dinner. Dessert was also a hit—the warm and comforting flavor of summer berries with perfectly ripened Pennsylvania peaches, topped with a sabayon; so delicious yet simple it’s almost criminal. ~ Danielle



Fresh Summer Berries and Peaches with Sabayon
Sabayon is delicious spooned over any berries. In this version, we use blackberries and raspberries, along with some sweet summer peaches.

For the Sabayon from David Lebovitz:
• 2/3 cup sweet white wine (I used muscato)
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 6 egg yolks For the Berries
• 1 pint blackberries
• 1 pint raspberries
• 1 tbsp sugar
• A splash of the sweet wine
• Prepare the berries. A few hours before serving (2-3 hours), put the berries in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar. Mix delicately. The sugar will pull out the juices and create a delicious berry sauce. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
• Make the sabayon. In a non-reactive metal bowl, whisk the sugar and the wine, until the sugar dissolves. Add the egg yolks to the mixture, and create a double boiler by setting the bowl over a lightly simmering pan of water (the water should not be touching the bottom of the bowl). Whisk vigorously until the mixture is frothy and stiff. You will know the sabayon is ready when the mixture holds its shape when you remove the whisk. If you need to take a break from whisking, make sure to remove the bowl from the heat, otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs. The sabayon is best served warm, although it keeps for several days in the refrigerator (and is quite delicious this way as well).
• Assemble. Chop the peaches unto 1” cubes, and add to the berry mixture, and mix gently, coating the peaches in the berry juice. Spoon the fruit mixture into a bowl, and top with the sabayon.



Stone Fruit Clafoutis

Cherries and peaches are depitted and halved for clafoutis. Their vivid cheerful colors are retained in baking, making for a visually appealing pattern in the neutral hued clafoutis.
Cherries and peaches are depitted and halved for clafoutis. Their vivid cheerful colors are retained in baking, making for a visually appealing pattern in the neutral hued clafoutis.

Despite our efforts to preserve stone fruits through canning and freezing, sometimes the surplus fruit defeats us (canning can be a hot and sticky endeavor – deskinning the peaches by boiling and soaking them in a cold water bath, halving them, and sterilizing the jars and seals). Baking is one solution even if it does involve turning on the oven during a warm summer day. A simple solution for those not ambitious enough to tackle a traditional pie is a clafoutis, a custard-based cake from southern central France. Clafoutis is derived from the French dialect word clafir, meaning “to fill”. This uncomplicated dessert may be rustic and a bit bourgeois, but stone fruit at its seasonal best needs something pillowy and straightforward, not elaborate, to highlight their flavors.


4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 lb of peaches, plums, or apricots (halved and pits removed)

1 cup of cherries

3 large eggs

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar

1 1/3 cup whole milk


The custard and fruit mixture already looks colorful prior to baking.
The custard and fruit mixture already looks colorful prior to baking.


1. Place the rack in the top 1/3 of the oven.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow baking dish (glass or enamelware or ceramic will all work).

4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until smooth and evenly yellow. Add and whisk the butter and flour into the eggs until completely smooth.

5. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

6. Whisk in 1/2 cup of sugar and then milk.

7. Pour the custard mixture into the shallow baking dish.

8. Sprinkle the cut fruit randomly in the custard mixture.

9. Place the baking dish of custard mixture and cut fruit in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

10. After 30 minutes, pull out the rack and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.

11. Bake the custard for an additional 30 minutes until the custard wobbles slightly, but somewhat firm in the center and the top has become golden brown.

The clafoutis can be served warm or at room temperature.






Summery Sunshine from a Fruit Tree: Apricots


At a farmstand known for its stone fruits, red nectarines seduce the eye with their color as much as the scent for their noses
At a farmstand known for its stone fruits, red nectarines seduce the eye with their color as much as the scent for their noses

Having eaten my fill from PYO farms and farmers’ market, I am a self-confessed peach and nectarine evangelist. One summer, I thought nothing ludicrous about driving 35 to 40 minutes to a local farm for peaches and nectarines. One can find me now in the farmers’ market holding each fruit close to the nose for scent and prodding it with a finger to test for ripeness. I always select a few ready for immediate eating and others, firmer in shape, for baking or future ripening. Use too soft fruit and one risks having a fibrous, but nonetheless delicious and sweet mess in the baked goods. Summer too brings fresh apricots, which are a welcome change from dried apricots all year long.

Tasmanian Apricots on Tree

Now apricots are accorded the same heroic worship after living in Tasmania. Californian apricots sold in East Coast US supermarkets were rarely flavorsome or even palpable with texture cotton wool-like and sparingly dry. Recently I have found salvation in organic apricots from Washington State sold in Whole Foods, and to limited degree, those from the Red Jacket Orchards in upstate New York. The trouble with apricots in the East Coast is how prone they are to pests and diseases (one Pennsylvanian grower bemoaned how susceptible the trees were to disease, especially brown rot). If the pests and diseases don’t befall the trees, then spring frosts can easily wipe one year’s crop. Apricots do best in Mediterranean climates where the dry heat ripens the fruit fully and wards off the diseases, and with its warm dry days and cool nights, Tasmania has the ideal climate.

Tasmanian Apricots 3

In early January, the first of Tasmanian apricots coincides with the dark cherries, providing ample inspiration and motivation to search or concoct interesting recipes for these stone fruits. Although the season is prolonged by growing different cultivars, it is still gloriously short, requiring one to preserve the glut in various forms. Many a Tasmanian country pantry is not without apricot jam or apricot preserves. Even the wharf upon which the old jam factory sits is made up of countless apricot stones. Fruit jams are often too sweet for my taste, but apricot jam has that exquisite balance of tanginess and sweetness. “Eating apricot jam is having sunshine in a jar,” I enthused to a friend after slathering the jam on my morning toast. A buttery croissant torn and dipped in apricot jam may land you in trouble with the healthy-eating brigade, but the flaky pastry interlaced with flecks of apricot jam is a gastronomic delight of sunny proportions. And the preserves beg for cream – ice cream, custard, and whipped cream.


“The flesh is commonly less juicy than that of the peach, and as a rule, perhaps of higher quality,” Wickson writes in L.H. Bailey’s The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture.” What the apricot lacks in juice, it compensates in flavour. Hold a perfect apricot close to the nose, and a honeyed fragrance hints at the ambrosial delights awaiting the taste buds. The fibrous orange flesh is soft, yielding nectar without resistance when eaten. I can think nothing comparable apart from a peach or nectarine plucked from a tree. It is no mystery why Shakespeare, like his fellow Europeans, alludes to them as aphrodisiacs in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. A perfect apricot is surprisingly hard to come by unless you are a fortunate beneficiary of a bountiful tree or a neighbour’s excess harvest. The ones in supermarkets have deceptive appearances – all golden smudged with rouge on their cheeks, only to taste like wet cardboard inside. Cooking tames them into submission as heat transforms the unyielding flesh into something more palatable and delectable. The hard ones can be halved and baked with lemon juice and sugar, eating them later with pistachios and yoghurt. Poaching them in sugar syrup does the trick as well. Sometimes I puree and blend the cooked fruits with custard to make apricot ice cream. In all, apricots enhance the reputation of stone fruits having versatile uses, and having access to Tasmanian ones has excited me.


Few Tasmanian orchards are without one or two apricot trees. Sometimes I pause to admire them – a large one used to grow at my rental place, and I take a detour on the way home to visit a tree in another garden. A mature, healthy apricot tree is a handsome tree in blossom, leaf, and fruit. It does not have the awkward gait of an ancient apple tree or the gangly stature of a pear tree. Instead, the tree spreads out its crown evenly and uniformly round. The dark bark is reminiscent of peach, scaly and furrowed, but smooth where the tissue have not ossified. Flush with orange in youth, the broad, dark green leaves fill out in circles, tapering towards their tips. They have no resemblance to the anaemic, sickle-shaped leaves of the peach or nectarine. Unripe, the fruit are smooth and jade-hued like the celadon vases that once graced the dwellings of Chinese and Korean nobility. They demurely hide behind the leaves, biding their time until sunshine teases out the crimson and golden shades, which rival those of a subtropical mango. Like jewels, the ripe fruit gleam against the lustrous leaves, making a tree look decorated for the festive season. Even the stones are spare in their simple flatness and grey-brown smoothness, not intricate and deeply incised like those in some stone fruits. In its last adieu to the growing season, the tree turns golden to yellow orange in autumn.

By no means am I alone in my reverence for apricots, which have been valued since antiquity. Their emergence in the Western World occurred with expansion of the Silk Route. Apricots became as pervasive as the silk and spices that dominated the trade, and began appearing in various cuisines under different guises. Even the etymological history is long as the apricot’s domesticated journey from Asia and Middle East – in Latin, the fruit was known as praecoqua or praecocia for its early ripening before transmuting to barquqor birquq in Arabic, and transfiguring in various Romance languages asalbarcoque (Spanish);albricocco (Italian); and abricot (French), hence the English derivation as apricot or apricock.

Apricot cultivation elsewhere in mainland Australia, Europe, and the United States is fraught with a long litany of pests and diseases, but in isolated Tasmania, it seems a clincher as long as certain requirements are followed. While appreciative of moisture, apricots dislike wet feet. In my friend’s orchard, the large tree has the benefit of the intermittent drips of water from nearby hosepipe faucet while sending its roots into the loamy soil. It is never inundated with water and the sunny location evaporates any excess moisture. Established trees can be drought tolerant. Because apricots flower on last year’s or older wood, pruning should be done carefully to thin out excessive branches and reduce the likelihood of alternate fruit-bearing years. Large trees with rampant growth can be contained by brutal pruning. The cruel irony of growing apricots is that the trees withstand cold winters well, but fruits none or poorly if spring frosts kill the flowers. For this reason, fresh apricots are hard to come by in East Coast U.S. and any available in supermarkets are from California or Washington State. As beautiful as the tree is, a fruitless tree defeats the main purpose of setting aside valuable garden space for it. European gardeners in frost-prone maritime climates often maximise their chances of fruit production by espaliering trees against walls or confining them under cool glasshouses. The introduction of hardier, late-flowering cultivars may encourage commercial growers in frost-prone areas. Tasmania’s mild climate is ideally tailored for apricots – winters cold enough for chilling requirements, and summers warm and dry enough for fruit set and ripening.

Still Life with Five Apricots, 1704 by Adriaen Coorte (image courtesy of the Frick Collection)
Still Life with Five Apricots, 1704 by Adriaen Coorte (image courtesy of the Frick Collection)

In Tasmania, the Coal Valley, with its drier and warmer microclimate, is ideal for growing apricots, and remains the centre of commercial apricot production in Australia. Several hundred thousand tonnes are sold locally and interstate, and visitors can still buy apricots from farm-door sales. Despite being superseded by more larger modern cultivars like ‘Rival’ and ‘Goldrich’, ‘Moorpark’, an old English favourite grown by Lord Anson at his Hertfordshire estate of the same name, is the standard in Tasmania. My friends returned home once with a bag of ‘Moorpark’ apricots, bought from a roadside stall in Richmond (Coal Valley), for fresh eating. Such was their flavour that I nearly risked their ire by eating one after one. The satisfaction of eating the apricots was enough to incite the Turkish expression “bundan iyisi Şam’da kayısı”, which means “the only thing better is a Damascus apricot.”

Pork loin braised in milk

Pork Title2

This dish, which seems to be trending lately, is very simple to make. Marcella Hazan’s is probably the most well-known version, but others are listed here ( and here (

I made my version the simplest way possible. Since this was the first time trying pork braised in milk, I wanted to limit the mistakes and keep it simple. While this dish is not very hard to make, it does require that a constant eye be kept on it.

• 2 1/2 pound boneless roast pork loin
• 1 tsp Salt
• 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
• A few sage leaves
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 cups whole milk. Absolutely do not use reduced fat milk. Just do not.



1. I had a pretty clean piece of meat, fat-wise. If your piece has a lot of fat, I recommend trimming, but leaving just a little to give the meat good flavor. Also, I should have used butcher’s twine to tie mine up—if you have a loosy goosy piece that doesn’t hold together too well, make sure to use some twine. Sprinkle kosher salt on the roast.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed flameproof casserole, or a dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the butter and once it is melted and foams, add the meat and the sage. You will want to sear the meat on all sides until it is nicely browned. This took me about 15 minutes.
3. Lower the heat and add the milk and the garlic. The milk should come up to about ¾ of the roast, so add more milk if you don’t have enough. Make sure to add the milk very slowly. Gradually bring the milk to a simmer, and partially cover the pot. The milk will curdle and form brown nuggets; don’t panic, this is what you want as they taste nutty, sweet and delicious. Let cook until the internal temperature is 140F, about 1 hour. If the pork is ready but the sauce does not seem to have sufficiently reduced, take the pork out and cook down the sauce for a bit.
4. When the pork is ready, remove from the pot and let sit for about 10 minutes. The sauce remaining in the pot will look a little curdled (and maybe unappetizing?), but this is normal. It tastes delicious, and you definitely don’t want to get rid of it. People often refer to these as “little brown clusters”. If it is very fatty (which mine was not) you skim the sauce and remove the fat. At this point, you can also use an emulsion blender and blend the sauce if you really don’t like the curdled look.

While this dish isn’t much of a looker, it tasted great—the sauce was sweet and nutty and the meat was perfectly tender. I definitely plan on making this again, but maybe with a few changes. First of all, I accidentally used reduced –fat milk because I didn’t read the label properly of what was in my fridge. BIG MISTAKE. This made a huge difference, as my milk wasn’t caramelizing at all. Once I noticed, I removed the low-fat milk and replaced with whole milk. However, the meat was ready before the sauce, so I had to take the meat out and let the milk cook on its own for a little.



Beet and blood orange salad with mint and goat cheese


This winter hasn’t been easy, what with the Hollywood-esque polar vortex and  below-freezing temperatures. Weather like this makes me crave both comfort food and bright citrus, a juxtaposition  that worked well in the dishes Eric and I prepared on a recent Sunday afternoon. The beet and blood orange salad with mint and goat cheese was bright and refreshing, yet hearty for winter. Pork loin braised in pork milk and the panade of beet greens were the ultimate comfort foods for a snow day (and the best part are the leftovers, perfect for consecutive snow days, of which we have had many). And to finish the meal on a bright note, like light at the end of the tunnel of winter, a Meyer lemon steamed pudding provides a bright citrus sweet ending.

Salad complete

Inspired by Los Angeles Times recipe from A.O.C. chef-owner Suzanne Goin

  • 3 bunches small to medium beets
  • ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup neutral oil such as canola
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 large blood oranges
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon juice from blood orange
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of mint leaves, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 6 oz of plain goat cheese (keep in the fridge until ready)

Beet ingredient panel

The LA Times article originally called for roasting the beets, but I preferred to boil them (I prefer the less intense flavor of boiled beets, and this is further justified by laziness). Also, I had some goat cheese on hand, and I thought this would go very nicely.

  1. Start by boiling a large pot of salted water for the beets. Once the water comes to a boil, add the beets and cook until fork-tender. For large beets, you can cut them longitudinally in half before adding to the water. When ready, let cool. Once cool, slice into very thin slices, approximately 1/16th of an inch (or as thin as you can get it).
  2. While the beets cook, prepare the blood oranges: after peeling them, use a serrated knife to trim the outer edge of the orange to remove as much of the pith as possible. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find the pith to have a slightly bitter taste, and I prefer to remove it. Then slice the orange into lateral rings, about 1/8th inch thick.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, mix together the blood orange juice and the lemon juice. Add the shallots and the salt and mix. Next add the two oils.
  4. To assemble, layer the beets and the oranges in a pretty pattern. Next, add the crumbled goat cheese to the dish, making sure to keep it well-chilled until ready and not over-mixing the salad. (Not keeping the cheese well-chilled and over-mixing will cause the goat cheese to dissolve into the vinaigrette and salad). Next, make sure your vinaigrette is well mixed and poor it over the salad, adding the black pepper and the mint leaves.

Note: I only had red beets on hand, but a mix of golden and red beets would make for an even prettier dish, when combined with the red blood oranges!


Butternut Squash and Leeks Baked with Goat’s Cheese

Collage Leeks Butternut 110313

The last savory part of our meal, before the pear and cranberry crostata and after the crisp fall salad of celery root, apples and shaved fennel, we ate something a bit heartier: butternut squash and leeks baked with goat cheese. I love combining leeks with roasted butternut squash, whose rich flavor goes very well with the sharpness of the goat cheese.

This baked dish is a delicious and easy way of preparing some winter vegetables. It’s also good inside of a savory crostata, but I like the ease of preparing this dish without the crostata crust.


  • 1 medium sized butternut squash
  • 3-4 leeks, with the top third chopped off
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 oz. Goat cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the butternut squash into 1” cubes. Try to make sure the pieces are equally sized so that they cook at the same rate. Put the butternut squash cubes in an oven-proof baking dish and toss with the olive oil. Salt well (1/2 tsp kosher salt) and mix in the garlic cloves. Put in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • While the squash is cooking, cut the leeks into ½” slices. Run the chopped leeks under water in a colander to remove all the dirt.
  • Melt the butter in a pan with the remaining olive oil and add the leeks with a pinch of salt. Cook the leeks on low heat until they are soft, but not browned. This should take about 10 -15 minutes. When cooked, take off the heat.
  • When the butternut squash is ready, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350.  Transfer the leeks from the stovetop to the same baking dish as the squash and mix well. Add the goat cheese and mix gently, and sprinkle with the black pepper. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and browned, about 25 minutes. When ready, serve warm.

Notes: The leek and butternut squash combination also works particularly well with blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola. Instead of goat cheese, try making this dish with any blue cheese that you fancy.


Crunchy Apple, Fennel, and Celery Root Salad

Horizontal Salad Collage

Before enjoying the pear and cranberry crostata with my friends, we filled up on some other fall favorites. To start off the meal, we ate a crispy fall salad of apples, celery root, and shaved fennel. The salad contains some blue cheese and arugula, which makes it a bit heartier.


One half of a celery root, with the edges shaved clean

2-3 fresh and crispy apples (i.e. pink lady, fuji). Avoid mealy apples.

2 bulbs of fennel

5 oz of Blue cheese (Roquefort, Gorgonzola, or Bleu d’Auvergne would work well)

A few handfuls of arugula (like 2oz)

2 fresh lemon

2 tbsp neutral vegetable oil (i.e. canola)

2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly grated black pepper

Kosher salt

  • Cut the celery root into matchstick thin pieces. I find the celery root to be a bit too fibrous for the mandolin, so I do this with a sharp knife. Put the celery root into a bowl with the juice of half of a lemon and 2 pinches of salt. Let the celery root sit for approximately 15 minutes to allow the salt and lemon joice to tenderize the pieces.
  • Chop off the fronds and trim the tough part outer skin of the fennel. Use a mandolin or a sharp knife to slice the fennel bulbs into thin curls. The fennel curls should be cut as thinly as possible, preferably about 1/32” thick. The fennel should be sliced horizontally to the base, as opposed to vertically.
  • Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Use the mandolin or a sharp knife to thinly slice each half. Once again, the apples should be sliced as thinly as possibly. Add the apples to a bowl with the juice of half of a lemon. This will prevent the apples from oxydizing and turning brown.
  • Once the celery root has slightly tenderized, add the sliced apples and sliced fennel to the bowl containing the celery root.
  • Mix in the blue cheese. Do not overmix to ensure that the blue cheese does not dissolve into the salad. Keeping the cheese chilled will help out with this.
  • Make the vinaigrette buy combining the juice of one lemon with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Whisk in the canola oil and the olive oil. Keep the vinaigrette to serve over the salad right before serving.
  • Right before serving, add the arugula to the salad, as well as the vinaigrette.

Notes: Walnut oil works quite well with the salad, so if you have some on hand, try substituting some of the olive oil with the nut oil.


Pear and Cranberry Crostata

In the coming months, we’ll be featuring seasonal recipes. Gardeners are often avid cooks, given their connection to the seasons and their instinct to nurture the soil. As such, we’ll be featuring seasonal recipes in the coming months.  Our guest writer and food-lover, Danielle is a halfie, half French and half American, from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her family is and always has been food obsessed and passed their culinary love down to her. She believes the best part of a meal is sharing it, and thus enjoys cooking for and with friends and family. Danielle likes preparing meals that remind you of the seasons and gets excited about each new season’s defining bounty. The French part of her laments the difficulty of finding a good baguette and a proper stinky cheese. 

Fall is my favorite season. I can’t put my finger on it, but everything feels right when I go outside on a crisp autumn day, hear the crunch of leaves on the ground, and see trees bursting with red and orange brightness. As with any season, part of the pleasure and excitement of welcoming the season’s arrival involves daydreaming about what to cook with nature’s goodies. I associate fall with celery root (celeriac), crisp apples, and pears. And of course, fall would not be fall without cranberries and butternut squash!

This week I’ll be posting some of my favorite fall recipes, and I hope you enjoy them too. I love combining apples with celery root and fennel. Apples go surprisingly well in salads, especially when paired with celery root and the slight anise flavor of shaved fennel. To make the salad a bit heartier, I like to add blue cheese and arugula. The mix of textures seems just right. Leeks are another one of my favorite vegetables—I practically grew up on them. I love combining them with roasted butternut squash, whose rich flavor goes very well with the sharpness of the goat cheese. Pear desserts are a fall classic, and the sweetness pairs perfectly with cranberries.

Rustic Almond-Pear Tart with Cranberries

Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Roasted Pear and Cranberry Tart

Collage pears_110313


To Poach the Pears

  • 5 red pears, quartered, cored, and peeled
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2.5 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (I used 1 tbsp. of vanilla paste)
  • Dissolve the sugar in the water on medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the contents with the tip of a sharp knife. Add the paste to the water-sugar mixture, along with the empty bean. When the sugar is dissolved, add the quartered pears and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the pears are tender. The longer you leave the pears in the poaching liquid, the more flavorful they will be. I left them in the liquid for an additional hour after they were ready.
  • Once ready to put together the tart, remove the pears from the liquid and set aside so that they dry. Reduce the poaching liquid and keep for any sort of desert/cocktail creation. J

Notes:  For additional information on poaching pears, you should read David Lebovitz’s tutorial here.

For the Tart Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 9 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp. cold milk
  • Additional flour for sprinkling
  • Combine the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor set up with the metallic blade. (The original recipe called for an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, but I found that the food processor works well too.) Pulse the mixture a few times to ensure that it is well combined.
  • Add the butter, bit by bit, while the food processor is on, and stop as soon as the butter is in pecan-sized lumps throughout.
  • Whisk together the egg yolk and the milk in a separate bowl, and then add to the food processor. Mix for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. The mixture should look more like crumbs than dough.
  • Pour the contents out onto a floured surface and gather the dough into a tight mound. If you see large chunks of butter, use your palm to smear to smear the dough. To do this, put your palm at the top of the dough mound and slide your palm down the side and along the work surface. Do this only one or twice, as you want to be careful of overworking the dough. Work the dough into a disk of about 1” thick and wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the Tart Filling

  • ½ stick (1/4 cup) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, ground to a powder, or ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • With the food processor, cream the butter and sugar for 1 to 2 minutes until light. Add the almond powder (or ground almonds) and mix for about 1 minute. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.
  • Add the egg, flour, vanilla, and mix until combined.

Assembling the tart

  • 1 egg
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Raw turbinado sugar (about 1 – 2 tbsps.)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or, if you don’t have that on hand, you can use aluminum foil that you’ve buttered slightly).
  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Roll out carefully on a floured surface. The dough should be about ¼” thick. Carefully transpose the rolled out dough to the baking sheet.
  • Scoop the frangipane into the center of the dough, and spread out evenly. Make sure to leave a border along the edge of the dough at least 3” thick. The frangipane will leak out during cooking if the border is not wide enough to ensure that it has been completely sealed in by the dough.


  • Place the quartered pears in the frangipane, making sure that they are resting entirely on the frangipane and not the dough. The pears should be placed such that the larger end is on the exterior edge of the tart and the smaller ends are facing inwards towards the center of the tart. Make sure to pack the pears tightly, lining them up closely to each other. Once you have completed laying out the pears in a circle, you can place a pretty pear design in the center to cover up the gap (if there is one).
  • Sprinkle the cranberries among the pears.
  • Begin by folding one portion of the rim of the dough up and over the pears. Continue in a circle, folding a new portion of dough over the previously folded portion. This should create about 6 -8 pleats of dough folded over the fruit.


  • In a bowl, add the egg and about 1 tbsp of water. Mix well. With a brush, coat the dough with the mixture. This mixture (eggwash) will ensure that the dough becomes a nice golden color during baking. Now sprinkle the sugar on top of the dough covered by the eggwash.
  • Refrigerate the tart for about 1 hour.
  • Bake in the oven at 350 for about 1 hour, or until the pastry is golden brown. Once done, let cool before transferring to a serving dish.